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Southmoreland boys tennis team looks to continue successful run

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Nearly everything has gone right for the Southmoreland tennis team during the regular season. The Scotties have compiled a 15-0 record, which includes a spotless 12-0 mark on their way to a Section 1-AA title.

“We finished the season well, and we continued to improve,” Southmoreland coach Jim Kessler said. “That's what you like to see.”

In the regular season, there hasn't been a lot of room for improvement. In the past three years, Southmoreland has shared the section title twice to go along with this year's outright championship. Southmoreland has lost just three section matches in the past three seasons.

But Southmoreland must find a way to continue its playoff success, which starts at 1 p.m. Monday with a first-round home match against Indiana.

Despite Southmoreland's regular-season dominance, success hasn't carried over into the postseason. The Scotties were bounced by Beaver in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 and fell to Burrell in the first round in 2011.

“In the last two seasons, we were dealing with injuries at first doubles,” Kessler said. “This year, we have our strongest team going into the playoffs.”

It's also a consistent team. Kessler noted that Tyler Fox (13-2), Kevin Bundridge (12-3) and Luke Zeleznik (15-0) have been outstanding at first through third singles, respectively.

Southmoreland has also benefited from strong doubles pairings. Davis Simon and Henry Riley are 15-0 in first doubles. Second doubles has been modified on occasion, but Adam Hernley and Adam Snyder have combined to post a 12-0 record. Isaac Proch, Shawn Potter and Brock Grabiak also could contribute for the Scotties at second doubles.

“We haven't had many changes to our lineup, and going into the playoffs, you want to be hot,” Kessler said.

The Scotties are the fourth seed in this year's tournament.

“I like our draw in a sense because we have a lot of depth,” Kessler said. “I like our seeding this year.”

The Scotties reached the WPIAL semifinals in 2010 before losing to Sewickley Academy. A meeting with the top-seeded Panthers could be a possibility again.

“We want to at least get through the first two rounds, and then we would probably see where we stack up against a team like Sewickley Academy,” Kessler said.

Kessler pointed out that his team's dedication could be a huge advantage.

“They are a good bunch of kids,” Kessler said. “They keep improving and they can't get enough tennis, and that is the key to Southmoreland's success.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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