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Franklin Regional boys tennis team aims for section title

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Alisa Jacobson | For The Murrysville Star
Franklin Regional sophomore Rochan Ramesh prepares to return a shot during a match against Norwin on March 14, 2014, at Franklin Regional High School.

The Franklin Regional boys tennis team returned to the postseason in 2013 after a one-year absence, relying on a lineup full of younger players to seize third place in the section.

With many of those same players returning in 2014, the Panthers are looking for even bigger things.

Franklin Regional opened its spring season last week with a 4-1 victory over Norwin, which the Panthers hope is a sign of things to come later this season.

“We set up goals at the beginning of the season, as coaches and also as a team,” coach Howard Fisher said. “Our 10-4 section record was a good record, but especially with a large group of seniors, I think we have a little extra motivation this year that they really want to take a section championship.

“Whether it'll come or not, we're hoping to be in the top three. That would be my set of goals for them, but I think they would obviously need to play their best because we have good competition in the section.”

The Panthers return their top three singles players from last season in sophomore Rochan Ramesh, senior Rohan Hattangady and senior Reno Casuccio. Fisher said senior Alex Sebastian is also challenging for a spot in the singles lineup.

Sebastian and sophomore Connor Warwick teamed up at No. 1 doubles against Norwin, with senior Nathan Yu and junior Ali Piracha forming the other doubles team. Hassan Chughtai also could see time in the lineup once he returns from an injury, Fisher said.

“We're going to try to keep doubles teams together for a little more continuity,” Fisher said. “We changed doubles around a lot last year, just to try and look for different chemistry. Our (No.) 1 and 2 (singles players) will probably be the same for most of the season, if not through the season. Our (No.) 3 might be where we see some rotation because we have some players who can play both doubles and singles, and we'd like to give them the opportunity.”

Ramesh said the team's experience from last year, which concluded with a loss to North Allegheny in the first round of the WPIAL team playoffs, should benefit the Panthers this season.

“I think (we have) the experience in how to win tough matches that are close and long,” Ramesh said. “(We know) the strategies and how to play those matches. We have so many seniors, and we also have a lot of returning players.”

Ramesh and Hattangady each won their matches by straight sets against Norwin, as did both doubles teams.

“It feels good (to win) because obviously it's our first match of the season,” Ramesh said. “I think it's a good confidence booster for our team because we got quite a few matches today. I think that'll help. Hopefully, that carries through the rest of the season.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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