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Carlynton's Phillips headed to PIAA singles tournament

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Carlynton freshman Luke Phillips returns the ball during the WPIAL Class AA consolation match on Tuesday, April 8, at Bethel Park High School.

The success of Carlynton freshman tennis player Luke Phillips continues.

A week after winning the Section 5-AA tournament – the first section singles tournament win by a Cougar since 2007 – Phillips finished third in the WPIAL Class AA tournament to qualify for the PIAA championships in May.

“I am a little disappointed I didn't make the finals,” Phillips said. “But I'm excited. It is pretty thrilling to get the opportunity to make it to states. I am looking forward to Hershey.”

Phillips defeated Bentworth senior Matt Lynch, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), in the consolation match. It was the second time in one week the two played after Phillips downed Lynch, 6-3, 6-3, to win the Section 5-AA tournament.

“I had a game plan going into (the section finals) and I was able to see what worked,” Phillips said. “It had its pros and cons for both of us playing again so soon. (Lynch) played great.

“It was a little closer than I would have liked but there is nothing you can do when he is playing so well.”

Affecting all the players was a strong wind that was blowing through the courts at Bethel Park.

“He has been playing tennis for awhile so he knows how to handle himself in the wind,” Carlynton coach Kyle Maines said. “It is tough playing out here because the gusts were blowing the ball around. It affected both players with individual gusts here and there.”

Phillips downed Riverside's Tyler Squicquero, 10-0, and Blackhawk's Jonah Cooper to reach the semifinals. He fell to eventual runner-up Josh Raymundo of Mars, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, to drop into the consolation match.

Sewickley Academy freshman Luke Ross downed Raymundo, 7-6 (7-0), 6-0, to win the WPIAL title. It is the first time since 2005 that two Class AA freshman from the WPIAL have qualified for the state singles tournament.

Phillips – Pennsylvania's No. 5 player in the Class of 2017 as rated by TennisRecruiting.net – will now have a few weeks to prepare for the PIAA tournament, scheduled for May 23 and 24 at the Hershey Racquet Club.

While he knows he had an uphill battle, Phillips is concentrating on bringing home some hardware.

“I am shooting for as far as I can go,” Phillips said. “In my head, I am winning every match. If I lose, I lose. But I am going for the gold.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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