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Doubles team of Blose, Davis makes Kittanning history

| Thursday, April 24, 2014, 11:18 p.m.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Kittanning junior Cole Davis hits a backhand return during a team match against Indiana on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at Kittanning Community Park. Davis and doubles partner Conner Blose are believed to be Kittanning's first-ever qualifiers for the WPIAL doubles tournament.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Kittanning senior Conner Blose returns a serve during a team match against Indiana on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at Kittanning Community Park. Blose and doubles partner Cole Davis are believed to be Kittanning's first-ever qualifiers for the WPIAL doubles tournament.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Kittanning's Cole Davis (left) and Conner Blose talk as they walk back onto the court during a changeover in their team's match against Indiana on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at Kittanning Community Park. The pair is believed to be Kittanning's first-ever qualifier for the WPIAL doubles tournament.

Connor Blose and Cole Davis have their own little piece of Kittanning High School history.

The Kittanning boys tennis players are believed to be the first Wildcats duo ever to qualify for the WPIAL doubles tournament. They will take the court when the Class AA championships begin 1 p.m. Monday at Shady Side Academy.

Blose and Davis face a tough matchup in the first round against Charlie Orr and Max Pollack of Winchester Thurston.

Orr reached last year's quarterfinals with a different partner, and he and Pollack received the No. 2 seed for this year's tournament.

“It's going to be a great way for me to end the season,” said Blose, a senior. “Regardless of the outcome, Monday will be great. I really like playing doubles, especially with Cole.”

“We're going out there to have fun and play our best, and we'll see what happens,” said Davis, a junior.

Though Kittanning has had WPIAL singles qualifiers, neither Kittanning athletic director Todd Harvey nor anyone involved with the Kittanning boys tennis program is aware of a doubles team qualifying.

Boys tennis has been a WPIAL sport since 1938, and accurate records from the early years are difficult to find, but Blose and Davis are certainly the first Wildcats to qualify in more than 30 years, and quite possibly, ever.

The pair qualified by taking third place in the Section 4-AA tournament with a win in the consolation match at Lakevue Racquet Club, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, over Springdale's Matt Mikus and Matt Kern.

“It was a really good match. We played a really good first set, had a bit of a letdown in the second, but came up strong in the third,” Davis said.

“It was a lot of fun, and it was our first time playing indoors,” Blose said. “I think we got comfortable after having a nice first-round match, and then I think we capitalized on Indiana (No. 2 seed John Appolonia and Jacky Li) arriving late and playing their first match after having a bye.”

For Blose and Davis, it was the third straight year they had entered the section doubles tournament as a pair. They lost in the first round of both previous appearances before winning three out of four matches to qualify this year.

Both players play singles in Kittanning's team matches this year, and though they haven't had as much time on the court together, the experience of playing singles has been a benefit to both.

“I'd say it's pretty natural for us out there,” Davis said. “I'd say we're a better team now because of how much better we've gotten individually. I think our serves have gotten a lot stronger this year.”

The two have rediscovered their chemistry in the past week, and played No. 1 doubles together in a team match against Indiana on Thursday to stay prepared for the doubles tournament.

While the two have worked on doubles strategy, Blose said they hope to keep things simple and have fun in what will be the senior's first and only WPIAL tournament.

“Being doubles partners for two years helps us a lot. We like to play a lob game and keep it away from the other team's front guy,” Blose said. “Once we can get their back guy deep, we can let our skills from playing singles pick up from there.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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