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Sewickley Academy boys ready to defend WPIAL, PIAA tennis titles

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 7:54 p.m.
Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross is a Georgetown recruit.
Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross is a Georgetown recruit.
Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross won the WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2016.
Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross won the WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2016.

The Sewickley Academy boys tennis team anticipates earning its 13th consecutive WPIAL Class AA title and doing something no Panthers squad has done.

Repeat as PIAA champion.

Senior Luke Ross leads the Panthers.

A Georgetown recruit, Ross is defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AA singles champion. He was ranked 89th in the nation earlier this month among junior tennis players in his age group by the United States Tennis Association.

“I am expecting great things from this season as I think the whole team is,” said Ross, 18, of Sewickley. “Although we lost some valuable seniors, we still have the bulk of our team back.”

Ross faced a test against Luke Phillips in the season opener, a Section 4-AA tilt Monday against Carlynton. Phillips was WPIAL and PIAA runner-up in singles last season.

Panthers senior and second singles player Sam Sauter is being recruited by college programs, Panthers coach Whitney Snyder said. Sauter placed third in 2016 and second in 2015 at the WPIAL singles championship.

Senior Ryan Gex will compete in third singles. Gex and his brother, Don, who graduated, came in first in the WPIAL and third in the PIAA in doubles last season.

Senior Neil Rana and juniors Dylan Parda, Nishant Purewal and Will Nocito are other returning players.

Rana placed third at the 2016 WPIAL doubles championship with Brian Rosario, who graduated.

Freshmen Arjan Bedi and Grant McCargo are newcomers.

“Our goal heading into this season is to win the state championship,” said Rana, 17, of Ohio Township. “The team is not too much different from last year's.

“We are all hard workers, so I believe we are capable of repeating last year's success.”

The Panthers have been PIAA champions twice, in 2006 and ‘16.

They have been PIAA runners-up four times.

Quaker Valley looks forward to making the PIAA Class AA playoffs for the second straight season. The Quakers placed third in the WPIAL in 2016.

Seniors Johann Cooper, Nate Carver, Walter Hubsch and Christian Tobias, junior Landon Grant and sophomore Potter Oliver are returning contributors.

“We have new players, including freshmen, (who) will hopefully fill the void of the two seniors (Charlie Veeck and Jonathan Reboton) that graduated,” Quakers coach Darren Mariano said.

Vying for spots are seniors William Valli and Jack Mueller; juniors Joshua Nichols, Ian Rodgers, Ben Graham and Spencer Kries; sophomore Samuel Weiner; and freshmen John Watters, Tarun Venkatasamy, Zach Albert, Nathan Blackmer and Griffin Wirth.

After two nonsection matches were called off because of the weather, the Quakers were set to open the season Monday in Section 2-AA against Beaver Falls.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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