Share This Page

Carlynton's Phillips claims Section 5-AA singles tournament

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted photo | Hannah Phillips
Luke Phillips is the first Carlynton tennis player to win the Section 5-AA singles tournament since 2007.

Heading into the section tennis tournaments, veterans of the WPIAL have a distinct advantage.

In addition to being more mature in their games, seniors and juniors have a better feel for the format and often more knowledge of the opponents they expect to face. But despite lacking any previous WPIAL tournament experience, Carlynton freshman Luke Phillips proved the odds wrong and captured the Section 5-AA title last week. Phillips is the first Carlynton player to capture a section title since Dan Becker did it in 2007.

“It was a great experience,” Phillips said. “I knew the field pretty well and knew there were a lot of good players. I am really happy with the results.”

Phillips defeated Beth-Center's Frank Zhu, 10-0; Thomas Jefferson's Kash Mahesware, 10-3; and Seton-La Salle's Mike Wilke, 10-4, en route to the finals. In the finals, Phillips defeated Bentworth's Matty Lynch, 6-3, 6-3. It was an upset as the top-seeded Lynch won the section title last season and was a PIAA qualifier.

“He is a great player,” Phillips said. “I knew I had a chance to win if I played well. He got the lead right off the bat. But I adjusted to his shots and found a groove.”

Keystone Oaks senior Chandra Muthiah fell to Wilke, 6-2, 6-2, in the third-place consolation match.

Luke isn't the only Phillips to have an impact on Carlynton tennis recently — older sister Hannah won the Section 5-AA singles tournament in the fall as a sophomore.

Their father Mark is a tennis instructor at Oxford Athletic Club in Wexford. Luke was introduced to the sport at a young age, and his dad has coached him along the way.

“Sometimes we have disagreements like most fathers and sons,” Phillips said. “But we work it out. It is great because he is there all the time and is the reason I am playing.”

Phillips might be new to WPIAL tennis action, but he has competed in a variety of events for years. He is ranked as Pennsylvania's No. 5 player in the class of 2017 by TennisRecruiting.net.

“He has a lot of tournament playing experience,” first-year Carlynton coach Kyle Maines said. “He has played a lot of tennis for his age. There isn't a lot he hasn't seen. He goes into a match knowing his ability and stays within himself. He doesn't play outside of his comfort level.

“He is a leader with the team. He sits around and watches the other guys play. When his match is over, he is right at my hip while I am coaching and cheering them on.”

Winning the section tournament qualified Phillips for the WPIAL Class AA tournament earlier this week –results were unavailable at press time. The experience should prove important as Phillips continues to grow as a player.

“He is a serious player, and I am a serious guy when it comes to coaching,” Maines said. “I think it is great we found each other. As he gets older, he will get bigger, stronger and faster and that will complement his ability. It is scary to think how good he could be.”

Phillips capturing the section title is the first step in what Maines hopes to do at Carlynton. The ultimate prize right now is a section team title. The last time the Cougars captured one was 1981 when Luke's father was a member of the team.

“I want to continue to build the program,” Maines said. “I know a section title is a huge goal especially since next year we move into a new section with stiffer competition like Sewickley Academy and Vincentian Academy. But we have stability moving forward and only have two seniors graduating this year. We're going to keep growing.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.