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Sewickley Academy grad takes up tennis at Lafayette

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Will Kleeman returns a volley during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Edgeworth.

A decision he made on moving day led former Sewickley Academy standout Will Kleeman to join the men's tennis team at Lafayette College as a walk-on.

After trying out, Kleeman, a freshman, learned he made the team last week.

“Another player suggested I try out,” said Kleeman, 18. “Until then, I pretty much had given up on playing in college.”

Coach Eric Ratchford said Kleeman has been a pleasant surprise.

“He's a good doubles player who's beaten some of our best walk-ons in singles,” said Ratchford, a former coach at Robert Morris.

A three-time WPIAL Class AA doubles champion with three different partners, Kleeman helped lead the Sewickley Academy boys team to its 10th straight WPIAL title in the spring.

After winning three challenge matches, Kleeman wasn't surprised he made the team.

“I figured my prospects were good,” said Kleeman, a junior national platform champion this year.

Kleeman is one of nine players, including five returning letter winners, for the Leopards, who were 5-12 overall and 1-5 in the Patriot League last season.

Lafayette opened the season last weekend at the Villanova Invitational, one of three invitational meets it will compete in this fall.

Ratchford said Kleeman will not play immediately.

“It's too early to determine where he'll play,” Ratchford said.

Kleeman said he doesn't mind playing singles or doubles.

“Just so I play, I don't care where they use me,” Kleeman said. “I want to help the team.”

A geology student, Kleeman is considering a career in the energy industry.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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