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Sewickley Academy, Shady Side Academy tandems win WPIAL doubles titles

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 7:21 p.m.

The partner might have changed, but the result stayed the same for Shady Side Academy senior tennis player Chris Grubbs.

Grubbs won his third straight WPIAL Class AAA doubles title, though this one came alongside sophomore Michael Kann and not Alok Nimgoankar, with whom Grubbs had won the past two.

Grubbs and Kann survived a third-set tiebreaker to defeat North Allegheny's Kevin Goth and Jared Isaacs, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), on Tuesday afternoon at Lakevue Athletic Club in Valencia.

Grubbs and Kann led 5-4 in the third set before allowing North Allegheny to break serve.

In the tiebreaker, Shady Side Academy blew a 4-2 lead, then rallied from a 6-6 tie when Goth slipped trying to play a shot, and Grubbs struck a well-placed winner to close it out.

“That's how the game goes,” Grubbs said. “I said to (Kann), ‘We have to keep fighting. This is far from over.' Even at 6-4, I said, ‘Put your shots on the court,' and he did. We fought the whole time.”

“That went down to the end, I guess,” Kann said. “But we came through when we needed it.”

All four advanced to the PIAA Class AAA tournament May 23-24 at Hershey Racquet Club.

Pine-Richland's Caleb Kramer and Ben Vinarski cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Shady Side Academy's Henry Cohen and Derek Chen in the Class AAA consolation match, but the WPIAL gets only two PIAA bids.

Sewickley Academy won the Class AA title for the fifth consecutive year, as senior Luke Vith and freshman Ryan Gex dispatched Charlie Orr and Max Pollack of Winchester Thurston, 6-2, 6-3.

The 6-foot-5 Vith and Gex, who's 5-5, are separated by a foot in height, but that's what makes the pairing special, Vith said.

“Our styles are a lot different,” Vith said. “He's a lot better from the baseline than I am. I'm big at the net. I think that helps us a lot. You don't want to get too much of one thing. We get the best of both worlds. It's working so far, so we're not going to change anything.”

After taking the first set, Sewickley Academy trailed 2-1 in the second before rallying.

“That was the straw that broke the camel's back, I guess you could say,” Gex said of winning the fourth game in the second set. “After that, we really started playing well.”

All four advance to the PIAA Class AA tournament.

Same for consolation winners Dan McCormick and Andrew Parda of Sewickley Academy, who topped Valley's Cody Schrecongost and Josh Denham, 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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