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Thursday, May 10, 2007

It took 19 matches, but the Mt. Pleasant boys tennis team finally found a team it couldn't defeat.

Wednesday's WPIAL Class AA semifinal was a close match, but in the end, Indiana eked out a 3-2 victory.

"It was a tough loss," Mt. Pleasant coach Tony Splendore said. "Kyle (Bradley) lost a tiebreaker in the third set, and Andrew (Cenkner) lost a tough match in three sets, 7-5. If even one of those goes our way, we win the match."

Cenkner had rebounded from a 6-1 loss to Sam Jockel in the first set of their first singles match, posting a 6-2 win in the second set. Cenkner then rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the third set to move ahead, 5-2, but Jockel wasn't quite out of gas. He came back to win five consecutive games and clinch the match.

Bradley's second singles match was even closer. After being shut out by Arvi Mohan in the first set, Bradley picked up a 6-4 win in the second and then fought for a 6-5 edge in the third. But Mohan managed to tie it and record the victory in a 7-3 tiebreaker.

"My No. 2 kid got the bright idea to come out and slow the match down, and he had some success with it," Indiana coach Phil Palko said. "I think it came back to bite him in the second set. But we had a little conversation when he was down, 6-5, and kind of decided, 'Play the way you play, and whatever happens, happens.'"

Wins by Jockel and Mohan were crucial in a match that was close from the start. Mt. Pleasant's Jonah Cockrell and Justin DePalma dispatched Keith Feldman and Adam Watters, 6-4, 6-0, at second doubles, but the Little Indians (19-0) answered as first doubles tandem Brendon Hurd and Joe Appolonia notched a 7-5, 6-0 win over Scott Swank and Nick Marhefka.

"Our No. 1 doubles team has been kind of our rock on this team all season," Palko said. "There isn't a team in a regular match that has pushed them at all."

At third singles, Eric Bradley got the Vikings (18-1) a 6-4 win in the first set, but Luke Miller came back to win the second set by the same score. The third set went to Eric Bradley, 6-2, but thanks to Jockel and Mohan, the match was Indiana's.

Mt. Pleasant will face Quaker Valley in a consolation match, with a win earning the Vikings a spot in the PIAA tournament. Indiana will play Sewickley Academy for the championship at 3:30 p.m. today.

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