Shady Side Academy captures PIAA boys tennis title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
HERSHEY — There were no pep talks beforehand, nor hand-wringing. Just a quiet confidence.
Facing District 1 power Conestoga for the third consecutive year in the PIAA boys team tennis finals, Shady Side Academy stared down its tormentors and won state gold Saturday at Hershey Racquet Club with a tense 3-2 victory.
Henry Cohen and NaJeen Jain snapped a won a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 thriller over Conestoga's Ryan Swope and Max Howarth at No. 2 doubles to give the Indians the state title.
Conestoga, the District 1 champ, had beaten Shady Side each of the past two seasons in a similar spot. Cohen and Jain prevented the familiar feeling of past failures from entering “old hat” territory.
“It's a great victory for this team,” Shady Side coach Thomas Mercer said. “We lost to these guys the last two years here. Coming back, we knew we had a good team. Nearly everybody was the same. So we felt we had a good chance.”
First and second singles ended swiftly in Conestoga's favor, tilting the action late toward doubles. Brian Grodecki beat Shady Side's Cooper Kann, 6-1, 6-1, at first singles. Eric Yen bested Derek Chen, 6-2, 6-2, at second singles.
The Indians picked up key wins at third singles and No. 1 doubles to even the match. Eric Grubbs got the Indians on the board with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Mike Blank on the No. 3 singles court, and the duo of Chris Grubbs and Michael Kann followed up with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Conestoga's Steve Yang and Nick Ruth.
That brought full attention to second doubles. Cohen and Jain took the first set before the Pioneers' duo countered with a second-set win. Shady Side's tandem fell behind 1-3 in the final and state title-deciding set before rallying to win five consecutive games and gold in dramatic style. Cohen and Jain beat the same pairing in the same spot in last year's finals loss.
“I think we're just more experienced, stronger. A year makes a big difference,” Mercer said. “I felt good bringing six guys back from last year. At this age, they're going to be bigger and better. I felt good about that.”
Shady Side reached the finals with a 3-1 semifinal win over Council Rock North, also from District 1, earlier Saturday. Conestoga defeated Abington Heights, 3-2, to reach the finals for the third straight season.
The WPIAL's other finalist was Sewickley Academy. The Panthers faced Class AA Wyomissing and dropped a 3-0 decision, officially recorded as 3-2 because they led the last two matches still in play when the verdict was reached. Wyomissing won its third consecutive PIAA crown.
The Spartans swept the singles matches. Andre Fick beat freshman Luke Ross, 6-1, 7-5, in first singles in a match that required a huge comeback by Wyomissing's star in the second stanza to win in straight sets. Fick rallied from 0-4 to take the top court.
Rodrigo Saad handled Sam Sauter, 6-0, 6-2, at second singles to put Wyomissing in the driver's seat. Dan Trifoi brought it home for the District 3 power with a 6-1, 6-4 conquest of Danny McCormick at No. 3 singles.
“You have to give credit to Wyomissing. They are a great program, the defending state champs,” Sewickley coach Whitney Snyder said. “Whoever is going to be playing them has to bring their A-plus game.”
Jeff Dewees is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Sewickley Academy girls tennis expects lineup to be fluid
- Growing Jeannette tennis team flush with girls interested in playing the game