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Shady Side Academy, Sewickley Academy continue tradition of success at WPIAL boys tennis finals

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 7:42 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross returns a serve against Mars' Josh Raymundo during the WPIAL Class AA team tennis championship match Thursday, May, 8, 2014, at North Allegheny High School in McCandless.

Tradition was on display Thursday at the WPIAL boys tennis team finals at North Allegheny.

Sewickley Academy won its 11th straight Class AA title 4-1 over Mars, and Shady Side Academy defeated Mt. Lebanon, 3-2, to earn its third straight Class AAA title and fourth in the last five years. Both teams advance to the PIAA championships next weekend in Hershey.

“There's a tremendous pride to represent Sewickley Academy and carry on a winning tradition,” Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said. “These kids know the kids who came before them and there are kids that are 30 years old that still call me and say, ‘Hey how's the team doing.' ”

Although Peter Hazlett and Dane Bendel won at first and second singles for Mt. Lebanon, Shady Side won both doubles matches and the third singles match to edge the Blue Devils.

“We've got a lot of depth and a lot of experience, and we're fortunate to have a lot of good players on our team,” Shady Side coach Tom Mercer said. “It's paying off to have our one-through-seven really strong. We pretty much have the same team we did last year, so we expected big things.”

Chris Grubbs and Michael Kann defeated Nick Reese and Christian Vietmeier, 6-0, 6-4, in first doubles, and Henry Cohen and Naveen Jain beat Tim Sullivan and Ryan Stentz, 6-1, 6-1, at second doubles.

Grubbs and Kann claimed the WPIAL Class AAA doubles title in April, and the Indians have had the luxury of being able to count on two doubles wins in most of their team matches this year.

“It speaks to the depth of the team, in that a lot of the guys are capable of playing singles too,” Mercer said. “They practice a lot of doubles and there's a lot of good competition among the team every day.”

Sewickley Academy freshman Luke Ross won his rematch of the Class AA singles championship over Josh Raymundo, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, but this win was even more significant.

“Today, we both knew we had to bring our best game,” Ross said, “and this time there was something even more because we weren't just representing ourselves. We were representing our whole team.”

Facing high level competition on the first truly warm day of the season could serve both Shady Side and Sewickley Academy well in preparation for the state tournament, held indoors at Hershey Raquet Club.

“It gets really humid, and I've seen guys cramp in there,” Mercer said.

Valley defeated Blackhawk, 5-0, in the Class AA consolation match and also qualified for the PIAA tournament.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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