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Gateway tennis team wins fair share in 2013 campaign

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Love | The Times Express

Gateway boys tennis coach Rochelle Seilhamer realizes that her team faces an uphill battle every year in Section 3-AAA.

The presence of perennial tennis powers Shady Side Academy, Fox Chapel and Central Catholic make the section perhaps the WPIAL's strongest in Class AAA.

“I'm hoping one of these years they won't have the kids they usually have,” Seilhamer said.

Once again, those three schools dominated the section. Central Catholic produced the WPIAL singles champ (Adam Blasinsky) and a Shady Side team (Alok Nimgaonkar and Chris Grubbs) captured the doubles crown.

Shady Side is the top seed in the WPIAL team tournament, and Fox Chapel is among the contenders to win it all.

“The kids from Shady Side Academy and Fox Chapel play year-round, and that's why they're better teams,” Seilhamer said. “A lot of our kids don't play year-round, and it's the same way at schools like McKeesport and Penn Hills. Our kids have to realize that it takes a commitment.”

Gateway closed out its season with 3-2 loss to Woodland Hills May 2, finishing up a 7-8 season. The Gators were competitive in Section 3-AAA, winning six matches.

Leading the way for Gateway was senior Tim Harris, the team's No. 1 singles player. He reached the quarterfinals in both the section singles and doubles tournaments.

“I've had Tim since I've been here. As a youngster, he could play, but he wasn't winning matches,” Seilhamer said. “Over the last four years, he has really stepped it up.”

Harris is one of three graduating seniors who will be leaving the program.

Senior Brad Shear played No. 2 singles and teamed with Harris to advance to the second round of the section doubles tournament. Shear and Harris defeated Eric Jones and Jesse Edwards of Penn Hills, 10-0, in the first round before falling to the Shady Side duo of Eric Grubbs and Cooper Kann in the quarterfinals.

Ronak Shah, another senior, played second doubles for the Gators.

A group of four juniors will be back and are expected to be the nucleus of the team in 2014.

Joey Beiter likely will move up from third singles to first singles. The other two singles positions should be filled by two of the three other returning juniors, Rohan D. Shah, Jim Park and Rohan C. Shah.

Seilhamer also will welcome back newcomers Kubilay Ceylan, Maley Shah and Victor Olapido.

The coach has pushed her team to improve in volleying and serving, and she hopes her players will continue to make progress in those areas next spring.

“We've had a problem, especially in doubles, with volleying and service,” Seilhamer said.

“We've always been a little lacking in those two areas. We tried to work on it, and we got better, but with a little more practice and playing, we should get even better.”

Dave Schrecengost is a freelance writer.

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