Thomas Jefferson tennis duo falls
Thomas Jefferson junior twins Sumanya and Ritwik Gupta weren't exactly shaking in their sneakers when they found out they would have to face second-seeded Josh Raymundo and Aaron Gruber in the second round of the WPIAL Class AA doubles tournament.
Then again, they weren't relaxed, either.
“I don't know if intimidated is the right word ... but I saw them play, and I knew that this was our first big test,” Sumanya Gupta said. “I would say maybe we were a little bit nervous.”
Though the Thomas Jefferson duo had a strong start, they fell in the last nine games in a 10-2 pro-set loss to the Mars tandem Monday at Alpha Tennis Center in Harmar Township.
Because they lost in the quarterfinals, the Gupta twins won't get the chance to earn one of the three available state tournament spots.
“I told them: ‘Rule No. 1, don't hit it to Raymundo. Rule No. 2, don't hit it to Raymundo. And Rule No. 3, when you hit it to Raymundo, don't let him hit any shots down the line,' ” Thomas Jefferson coach Chuck Correll said. “When you think about it, it's kind of funny. But he's such a good player, and I counted less than five mistakes he made in the entire match.”
The Planets' freshman was the Section 3 singles champion but had to back out of the WPIAL Class AA tournament because of an emergency appendectomy. Instead of entering the singles tournament as the top seed, the draw changed.
The player who finished second Raymundo in the sectional, Vincentian sophomore Derek Chen, defeated Thomas Jefferson senior Jake Mascaro, 6-1, 6-0, to win the WPIAL singles title.
Despite facing the top-rated Class AA WPIAL singles player, the Gupta twins opened up an early 2-1 lead.
“I think, in the first couple of games, we were hitting with them,” Sumanya Gupta said. “Then, after that, we would make one mistake, and the errors piled up, and we couldn't hold on.”
It was a much different match than the first the two played when they rolled over Burrell twosome Luke Lynam and Tom Spagnolo, 10-4, in the first round.
Thomas Jefferson's second doubles team of John Ha and Keaton Lindberg almost pulled off the biggest upset of the day. The 11th-seeded pair went down to the wire in a first-round match against Valley's Cody Schrecongost and Adam Barone before losing, 10-8.
“We were winning, and they started poaching more, and we just couldn't get our cross-court shots working anymore,” Ha said. “We played our best ,and we tried lobbing. But it's indoors, and we haven't really played a lot indoors.”
Ha and Lindberg led, 5-3, before Valley became more aggressive on almost every shot. They still led, 7-6, and were up a break before Schrecongost and Barone roared back to win the next three games and finished it off with a service break at 8-9.
“Honestly, they played really well,” Ha said. “We weren't getting our first serves in, and I hadn't been serving well all game.”
Thomas Jefferson opens play in the WPIAL Class AA team championships next week. Because some teams have yet to finish their section schedules, the announcement of venues and opponents won't occur until Wednesday.
“It's invaluable to play at this level and to really compete at this level, and that's what they did: They competed, especially in second doubles,” Correll said. “I just think that when you play competition at that level, it gets you even more ready.”