Sewickley Academy doubles team takes third at PIAA tournament
HERSHEY — All Will Kleeman wanted to do his senior year was move one step further in the PIAA Class AA doubles tournament than he did in 2012.
On the surface it might not have appeared to be that big of a deal. After all, one more round seemed to be an achievable goal, especially for a doubles specialist in his third trip to the Hershey Racquet Club.
In the end, he made a stride forward. It just ended up as a large step to a place just short of the ultimate goal.
Kleeman and fellow senior Colin Kaye won the opening set of their state semifinal against Keller McGurrin and Peter Kazmierczak of Scranton Prep, but the lead didn't last as the Sewickley Academy duo fell in a three-set heartbreaker, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, and were forced into a third-place match with Michael Antonis and Francesco Mowrey of Notre Dame Green Pond.
Though they won the third-place match, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), they still were upset after coming up short in the semifinal.
“Our level of game, we played pretty steady in the first set, we had a lot of energy coming out of the gate and I feel like they weren't ready and they're a young team,” Kleeman said. “Once we won the first set, I think we were expecting them to crumble and kind of give up, but they stayed strong and got in a lot of their first serves and stayed strong in the second and third set.”
Since the PIAA expanded to two classifications for tennis in 1999, no WPIAL doubles team has ever played in the Class AA state final. Kleeman and Kaye were the sixth team to make it far as the semifinals — the fifth from Sewickley Academy, including Kleeman and Patrick Dellinger in 2012 — but none has been able to make that last step to get into the title match.
Kaye and Kleeman were the first WPIAL Class AA doubles team to even win a set in the semifinals as the previous five had all been knocked out in straight sets. But that was little consolation after seemingly having a berth in the finals firmly in their grasp.
“I think we were dominating mentally in the first set and felt we owned the court, and it just came away,” Kaye said. “We definitely didn't play our best, but they definitely played very well.”