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Tennis

Sewickley Academy's Sauter just fine with playing 2nd singles

| Monday, April 4, 2016, 1:15 p.m.
Sewickley Academy's Sam Sauter winds up to return a volley during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Sam Sauter winds up to return a volley during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Sewickley Academy's Sam Sauter winds up to return a volley during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Sam Sauter winds up to return a volley during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Sewickley Academy's Ryan Gex watches the ball during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Ryan Gex watches the ball during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Sewickley Academy's Brian Rosario reacts during a doubles match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Brian Rosario reacts during a doubles match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Sewickley Academy's Brian Rosario is seen in between a Mt. Lebanon doubles team during a match on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Brian Rosario is seen in between a Mt. Lebanon doubles team during a match on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Sewickley Academy's Nish Purewal leaps for the ball as doubles partner Dylan Parda stands ready during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Nish Purewal leaps for the ball as doubles partner Dylan Parda stands ready during a match against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Sewickley Academy junior Luke Ross returned to the school after spending a year playing in Florida.
Submitted
Sewickley Academy junior Luke Ross returned to the school after spending a year playing in Florida.

Sewickley Academy junior Sam Sauter has a less prominent role on the Panthers boys tennis team, but he's just fine with that.

He's happy junior Luke Ross is back, even if it means he's the Panthers' second-best player.

Sauter ascended to first singles in 2015 after Ross missed the season to train in Florida. He placed second at the WPIAL Class AA singles championship and led the Panthers to their 12th consecutive WPIAL team title.

With Ross back, Sauter dropped to second singles this year.

Sauter said he didn't mind being demoted because Ross' return has strengthened both him and the team.

Ross, a junior, was WPIAL singles champion in 2014 and is ranked among the nation's top 200 junior tennis players.

“I think he will be able to push me through the course of the season to the point where we may have a competitive respect for one another,” Sauter said. “I hope that Luke and I can dominate at the one and two singles (positions) with the goal of not losing any of our matches.”

Ross agreed he and Sauter make each other better, adding their undefeated records, as well as the team's, so far this season prove that.

The Panthers are 5-0 in Section 4-AA.

“It's been great so far,” Ross said. “He's a great kid.

“(It) inspires me to see him working hard. After a match, he'll say, ‘I'm going to hit some more.' ”

Panthers' coach Whitney Snyder admires Sauter's selfless attitude, which he said is emblematic of the team.

“These kids are so humble and unselfish,” he said.

Sauter said his mother has been a strong influence.

Missie Berteotti was an Upper St. Clair golf standout and 14-year LPGA Tour member.

“(My mother) has constantly been in my ear,” Sauter said. “She makes me read all the time about learning and developing skills.

“(Recently), she even worked out and fed me (tennis) balls. I dedicate lots of my success to her.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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