Southmoreland boys tennis team puts together great year
It's pretty easy to say this has been a great season for the Southmoreland boys tennis team.
Obviously, when you win each of your 14 games — usually by a 5-0 score — you're having a great season.
That season became a little better April 25 when a 4-1 win over Greensburg Central Catholic clinched the Section 1-AA championship. The Scotties tied for the section crown with Mt. Pleasant in 2011 and GCC in 2012. It marked only the third time the Scotties did not win 5-0 (They also beat GCC 3-2 earlier in the season and beat Quad A Latrobe 3-2). The Scotties took a 11-0 section mark into a May 1 match with Brownsville.
The lineup has been pretty consistent for the Scotties all season — seniors Tyler Fox and Kevin Bundridge and junior Luke Zeleznik playing singles and each match being rounded out by the doubles teams of junior Davis Simon and sophomore Henry Riley and sophomores Brock Grabiak and Isaac Broch.
“We knew going in we had a strong team,” said Coach Jim Kessler. “We had a lot of good players coming up. There's a lot of players here who don't even get to play that would be starting on other teams. We should actually have a strong team in the next few years.”
That's because the roster is full of talented underclassmen.
But first things first and that's this season and the hope for success in the postseason, which would mean getting past the first round.
“The last three years we lost in the first round,” Fox said. “That would be nice (to advance).”
Kessler said a key would be staying away from the injuries that hurt the squad in the playoffs the last two years.
What has led the Scotties to the stellar heights its reached to this point in the 2013 campaign has been their willingness to play the game and play it a lot. Kessler even said many of his players can be found playing even after practice is completed.
“It's already been a successful season,” Kessler said. “We can't really can't do more than we've done. I'm just worried about that one flat match. We haven't had that yet....You can see how they're all pumped up.”
Fox agreed that the key to success has been simple.
“Just staying to our game,” he said. “Doing what we do best, playing as a team.”
Fox lost just once this season, a defeat that came the first time he played against Greensburg Central Catholic, but he was able to come up with a straight sets win April 25.
Fox hopes to continue with tennis at the collegiate level and plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in the fall.
Bundridge likes the effort he's seen from the squad.
“We all have good synch,” Bundridge said. “We're all compatible with one another.”
Plus, it's a team that has it's share of players with athletic ability.
“Tyler plays soccer, KJ (Bundridge), he does a little bit of everything,” Kessler said. “We have a lot of good athletes.”
Aside from being the lone seniors who receive regular playing time, Fox and Bundridge add experience.
“They've been (singles) one and two for the last three years,” Kessler said, adding the team is 43-5 (as of April 30) in the last three years with Bundridge and Fox on the squad, 35-3 in section matches.
Fox sees that as a plus in the postseason.
“We're both consistent and good players,” he said. “It's just nice to know maybe we'll have a good chance to win the two singles spots.”
Perhaps, that would mean some postseason success.
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.