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Shady Side Academy set for strong tennis run

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Shady Side Academy's Alok Nimgaonkar celebrates after defeating Fox Chapel in the Class AAA doubles championship match with teammate Chris Grubbs Friday May 4, 2012. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Shady Side Academy's Chris Grubbs returns a volley against Fox Chapel during the Class AAA doubles championship match with teammate Alok Nimgaonkar Friday May 4, 2012. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

The Shady Side Academy tennis team made it to the state finals last year before falling to Conestoga.

SSA coach Tom Mercer believes that this year's edition has what it takes to make a strong run at states, again.

“We lost our No. 1 player, Vivek Nimgaonkar, but we've got everybody else back,” Mercer said. “Vivek's brother, Alok, will move into the top slot and he's a pretty good player.”

Nimgaonkar, a senior, will team up with sophomores Eric and Chris Grubbs at singles with a pair of promising freshmen — cousins Cooper and Michael Kann — also in the mix.

Junior Henry Cohen will play at doubles with three more sophomores — Sahil Bahri, Naveen Jain and Brad Steiner — also expected to contribute.

“It hurts to lose Vivek but we have the balance and depth to make up for it,” Mercer said. “Our freshmen are really strong players.

“We have a lot of combinations that we can use and we are experienced. Everybody from last year's team is a year older and a year better.”

Mercer expects the section battle to once again come down SSA and Fox Chapel.

“We appear to be the top two teams on paper,” Mercer said. “Central Catholic has the best player in the WPIAL coming back in Adam Blizinsky so they will be tough at No. 1 singles.

“Overall, in the WPIAL, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair will be very strong.

“All in all, I think we can make it back to states. We have a nice blend of experience and talented newcomers and we expect to have a strong season.”

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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