Sewickley Academy, Quaker Valley boys tennis teams open season victorious
For the Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy boys tennis teams, the 2014 season started with Section 3-AA victories last Friday, but thanks to Western Pennsylvania's constantly changing weather conditions, neither team has been able to get in much quality practice time.
As a result, neither coach has been able to fully evaluate their players and set a concrete lineup for the season that lies ahead.
“We've been very limited as far as practice time,” Sewickley Academy head coach Whitney Snyder said. “There hasn't been much opportunity because of the weather.”
The Panthers — the 2013 WPIAL Class AA team champions and PIAA semifinalists — opened their season with a 5-0 victory at Knoch last Friday.
Sewickley Academy got singles victories from senior Danny McCormick, freshman Sam Sauter and junior Wyatt Geller. Doubles tandems Andrew Parda and Luke Vith and Ben Clause and Neil Rona also won.
Parda and Vith are seniors. Clause and Rona are freshmen who were called up from the junior varsity squad because the Panthers were shorthanded Friday thanks to the start of spring break.
“It will be nice when we have the whole team back,” Snyder said.
When the Panthers are at full strength, freshman Luke Ross will occupy the team's No. 1 singles spot, with McCormick playing No. 2 singles and freshman Ryan Gex at No. 3.
Snyder hasn't been able to fully evaluate his doubles players, but Parda, Vith, Sauter, Geller, senior Logan Yee and sophomore Brian Rosario will be among those competing for the four available positions.
Ross and Gex (pronounced Jay) are year-round players who are part of a strong freshman group at Sewickley Academy.
“The freshman class is very talented,” Snyder said. “Not just the three who made varsity, but the JV as well.
“Their talent makes the older kids pay attention.”
Quaker Valley opened its 2014 season with a 3-2 win against Vincentian last Friday. The Quakers finished fourth in the WPIAL Class AA team tournament last season, just one win shy of qualifying for states.
Like Snyder, Quaker Valley head coach Darren Mariano hasn't been able to finish his player evaluations, so he filled out his lineup for the Vincentian match primarily with returning lettermen.
Senior Jeremy Baumwell — the captain of this year's squad — will play No. 1 singles for the Quakers.
Against Vincentian, freshman Walter Hubsch and junior David Allada were the other singles starters. Hubsch lost his No. 2 singles match in a third-set tiebreaker, and Allada won by forfeit because Vincentian didn't have enough players available to field a full lineup.
Senior Hugh Rice and sophomore Charlie Veek formed the No. 1 doubles team. Senior Harrison West and junior Keaton Grant took the court for No. 2 doubles.
Also returning to the Quakers' lineup are senior Winter Fondi and sophomore Jonathan Reboton.
Though the weather hasn't been cooperating much so far, both coaches realize that their teams have to make the best of it until the weather breaks.
“Tennis as a spring sport has always been an issue,” Mariano said. “You have to perform. You have to get through it.”
“You hope to be better at the end of the season than you were at the beginning,” Snyder said. “You want to be playing your best tennis by mid-May.”
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.