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Penn-Trafford tennis team readies for postseason

| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Aaron Loughner | For the Penn-Trafford Star
Penn-Trafford junior Cullen Price hits a shot during the Section 1-AAA tennis tournament on Monday, April 22, 2013, at Franklin Regional High School.

The Penn-Trafford tennis team already accomplished one of its goals for 2013, clinching the Section 1-AAA championship for the third straight season.

Now comes the tougher part.

The Warriors are expected to begin the first round of the WPIAL team playoffs Friday with a home match against a to-be-determined opponent. Seedings were expected to be posted Wednesday past the deadline for this edition. They can be found at the WPIAL website, www.wpial.org.

The past two seasons, the Warriors won the section title only to lose in the first round of the team playoffs — to Bethel Park last season and Fox Chapel in 2011.

“We always do our best,” Penn-Trafford coach Linda Michaux said. “We always try to do the same things, and we'll just play our hardest. It just depends upon the competition.”

This year's Penn-Trafford team had a chance to do what the previous two couldn't: finish the regular season with a perfect record. After a 3-2 win over Franklin Regional last week, the Warriors (13-0) headed into Tuesday's match at second-place Latrobe needing just one win to finish off their perfect campaign.

The match ended past the deadline for this week's edition.

“We want to finish 14-0, because we want a good seed in WPIALs,” junior Cullen Price said.

Since Penn-Trafford ended Franklin Regional's run of nine consecutive section championships in 2011, the Warriors have established themselves as the annual team to beat in Section 1. Entering Tuesday's match, Penn-Trafford held a 35-2 section record over the past three seasons.

“The team is very competitive,” Michaux said. “They're very good friends. They enjoy winning, and they work hard. And it doesn't hurt that Cullen Price is our No. 1 player.”

Price, who became the Warriors' No. 1 singles player as a freshman, was 12-1 in section singles matches this season entering Tuesday. He also finished second to Latrobe's Chad Kissell in the section singles tournament, and he and senior Alec Giugliano finished as the runners-up in the section doubles championship.

Price and Giugliano lost, 10-3, to Upper St. Clair's Domenick D'Amico and Mike Russell in the first round of the WPIAL doubles tournament Monday.

Michaux said a major benefit to having a player like Price is that other strong players move down a slot in the lineup and have good chances to win against the other team's competition.

It also helps having an almost guaranteed 1-0 lead in most section matches.

“I think it helps, because it puts the team in a better position to win their matches,” Price said. “As soon as they see me win, it helps them get motivated and win their match.”

Behind Price, the Warriors start seniors Dalton Yezovich and Jordan Pastoria at No. 2 and No. 3 singles.

Several players play doubles for Penn-Trafford, including seniors Aaron Augusty, Alec Giugliano, Christian Herman and Ralph Nicassio and sophomores Anthony Iovino and Tim Seaman.

“We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing, working hard and hoping for the best,” Michaux said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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