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Butler boys tennis team building for future

Submitted - Butler senior Ethan Turner
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Butler senior Ethan Turner
Submitted - Butler senior A.J. May was the Golden Tornado's top singles player and competed in the Section 2-AAA singles tournament
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Butler senior A.J. May was the Golden Tornado's top singles player and competed in the Section 2-AAA singles tournament

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By Joe Sager
Saturday, May 10, 2014, 4:29 p.m.

Butler's boys tennis team closed the season on a positive note.

The Golden Tornado beat Seneca Valley, 4-1, to finish with a 7-8 overall record.

While that fell short of the team's goal, head coach Dave Hartzell was encouraged with what he saw from his players.

“I was very pleased with the team,” he said. “It's a good group of guys and everyone improved from last year, and that's what we wanted. I thought that we improved and our scores were better than last year and so was our record. We still have a ways to go, though.”

The young Butler squad, which had two seniors in its lineup, failed to reach the postseason in a rugged WPIAL Section 2-AAA that saw North Hills, Pine-Richland and Hampton qualify for the WPIAL team playoffs.

“We're just in a good section, so it's tough,” Hartzell said. “North Allegheny and Pine-Richland are always good and North Hills had an exchange student who is really good.”

Senior A.J. May was the Golden Tornado's top singles player for the last two seasons. Junior Henry May, A.J.'s cousin, was mainly at No. 2 singles, and sophomore Devin Fitz was at No. 3. Senior Ethan Turner saw some singles action as well.

“All three payers under A.J. improved throughout the year. I am very pleased,” Hartzell said.

Sophomore Cam Sedwick and junior Troy Bell were the main No. 1 doubles pairing, although Henry May dropped down to team up with Sedwick on occasion. Junior Tony Santilo and Turner were at No. 2 doubles, and freshman Brock Hinton saw time as well.

“We won about five matches 5-0 and only lost two of our matches 5-0. So, when I went over the records of our players, almost everybody had a winning record,” Hartzell said. “So, that was a sign we all improved because last year that was not the case, and these are the same players I had last year.”

A.J. and Henry May both competed at the Section 2-AAA singles tournament, but both lost first-round matches. The two teamed up at the Section 2-AAA doubles tournament as well, but fell in the first round. Fritz and Sedwick lost a first-round doubles match, too.

“We did not do too well at the section tournaments. It was a little disappointing,” Hartzell said. “I thought in doubles we had a good chance. We just didn't perform as well as we hoped.”

Nevertheless, Butler maintained a positive attitude throughout the season.

“It was the nicest team to coach that we've had here,” Hartzell said. “They all listened, and they all tried to improve. They all had good attitudes and that really helps as far as being a coach.

“Basically, they just worked pretty hard. They worked hard over the summer. In the preseason, they seemed like they were pretty good athletes and they kept getting better.”

Hartzell and the returning players are looking forward to next season.

“I have some eighth graders who look like they're promising. I have some kids coming through with some talent that we're hoping will help us next year,” he said. “Our plan is to try to keep the guys playing a lot more over the summer this year. Already, they're organizing times to hit with each other. Tennis is a good sport to play year round, especially with the indoor courts we have around here.

“This year the hope was we could get to .500. We got close to it,” he continued. “Next year, it would be optimistic, but I hope we could get close to challenging for a playoff spot.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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