Shady Side Academy boys tennis team earns second consecutive WPIAL crown
The Shady Side Academy boys tennis dynasty rolled on last week as the Indians defeated North Allegheny, 5-0, at Pine-Richland High School on Thursday to claim the WPIAL title.
“This is what the team has been working for all season long,” SSA coach Tom Mercer said.
It was the second straight WPIAL crown for the Indians and their third in four years.
“The team takes pride in their accomplishments,” Mercer said. “We've continued to be successful despite losing some key players to graduation every year. There is no selfishness on this team and it's a cohesive unit that puts in a lot of hard work to remain at the top.”
The Indians won handily, despite dropping the first set at No. 1 doubles, No. 2 doubles and No. 1 singles.
Alok Nimgaonkar fell to NA's Kevin Goth by 6-0 in the first set before regrouping to claim an 0-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory.
At no. 2 singles, Eric Grubbs breezed to a 6-1, 6-3 win, while Cooper Kann prevailed at No. 3 singles by 6-1, 6-0 over Andrew Xu.
Nimgaonkar wasn't ready to hit the panic button after his first set loss.
“Kevin played very well the first set,” he said. “He's a very good player. I completely changed the way I was playing after the first set and went to more of a serve and volley game and it worked.”
He acknowledged that the team's 5-0 win was closer than it looks.
“Along with my match, our doubles teams had to come back, too,” he said. “The guys rallied, though. We're a match-tested team and we kept our composure.”
At No. 1 doubles, Chris Grubbs and Michael Kann bounced back from a 3-6 first set loss to beat Tomas Monti and Eric Huang by 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
At No. 2 doubles, Henry Cohen and Naveen Jain defeated Jared Isaacs and Connor Goodman by 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to complete the sweep.
“It feels great to win the WPIAL title,” Chris Grubbs said. “This was one of our goals at the beginning of the year. If the team plays like this at states, we will be tough to beat. Everybody was at the top of their game against North Allegheny.”
The Indians began PIAA play this week and Nimgaonkar felt confident about the team's chances.
“We should be competitive,” he said. We're experienced and we've all been playing well. There are some tough teams in the draw. Lower Merion and Conestoga have some good players. Conestoga beat us in the finals last year and, like us, they have a lot of players back. That should be an interesting match if we get the opportunity.”
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or email@example.com.