Sewickley Academy boys tennis team again a WPIAL favorite
With outstanding depth, the Sewickley Academy boys tennis team is heavily favored to win its 10th straight WPIAL Class AA title.
The Panthers, who open the season Tuesday against Mars, return six starters, including senior Colin Kaye, the defending WPIAL singles champion, and seniors Patrick Dellinger and Will Kleeman, who won the WPIAL doubles title a year ago.
A junior national champion in platform tennis this year, Kleeman also was on a doubles team that claimed the WPIAL championship in 2011.
The three are among 11 players vying for starting positions. Others include freshman Brian Rosario, sophomore Wyatt Geller and juniors Danny McCormick, Andrew Parda, Luke Vith and Logan Yee.
Seniors Hayden Moyer and Luke Schramm also are contending for playing time.
“With so many good players, it's tough deciding on a lineup,” said coach Whitney Snyder, noting that 37 boys tried out for the team.
While he doesn't expect it to be a problem in the WPIAL, Snyder said a lack of a standout player may hurt the Panthers at the PIAA tournament, where they have reached the semifinals the past two years.
“We don't have that player you build a team around, someone who's a cornerstone,” agreed Kleeman, 18, one of four captains.
With Sewickley Academy expected to take first place, Quaker Valley hopes to be a challenger in Section 3-AA.
Junior Jeremy Balmwell, the Quakers' No. 1 player, returns after competing at the section singles championship last year.
In his fourth year on the team, senior Garrett Powell will play second singles.
Sophomore David Allada and senior Matt Stock are fighting for the third singles spot.
Doubles players include seniors Dante Piccolo and Seba Pereira and junior Cameron Fadzen.
Also on the team are freshmen Charlie Veeck and Jonathan Reboton, sophomores Keaton Grant and Sam Falk and juniors Hugh Rice, Winter Fondi and KJ Devlin.
“Being a public school, we can't get kids the way Sewickley Academy and other private schools do,” said acting coach Ed “Pucky” Perry, who came out of retirement to guide the Quakers this season. “It's hard to find players.”
Before the streak was interrupted last year, the Quakers qualified for the WPIAL playoffs 11 straight times, reaching the semifinals in 2011.
Quaker Valley was WPIAL champion in 2002 and 2003, the last time a team other than Sewickley Academy won the title.
Sewickley Academy was runner-up both years.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.