Franklin Regional's Ramesh making impact in senior season on tennis courts
Coming into this season, Rochan Ramesh's best finish at the Section 1-AAA singles tournament was second, and he was not able to make it past the first round of WPIALs in two previous tries.
But the Franklin Regional senior surpassed both of those best marks with recent strong performances on the court.
Ramesh broke through on April 5 and captured his first section championship.
Then on Monday, the No. 5 seed for the WPIAL singles tournament posted a hard-fought 11-10 (9-7 tiebreaker) pro-set victory over Montour's John Rutkowski in the first round at The Club in Monroeville.
He then suffered a tough 10-7 loss to Pine-Richland's Ben Vinarski, the No. 4 seed, in the quarterfinals.
“I am definitely thinking in a positive light (after WPIALs),” Ramesh said. “I faced two strong players, and we all did well. It was some tough competition.”
Ramesh rolled to the section championship last week, and he lost only five games in his four matches. He topped section runner-up Turner Price, a sophomore from Penn-Trafford, 6-1, 6-2, in the finals after breezing past fellow Penn-Trafford sophomore Kevin Lee, 6-0, 6-2, in the semifinals.
Ramesh also had little resistance getting to the section finals last year before running into Latrobe's Chad Kissell who topped Ramesh, 6-1, 6-1.
Kissell went on to close out his high school career with WPIAL and PIAA championships. He now is playing in college at Valparaiso.
“Chad was an amazing player, and it was tough to go against him,” Ramesh said. “It felt great to finally overcome that and win the title.”
Ramesh said it was a nice feeling to have the section title in his pocket heading into WPIALs as it helped give him more confidence and give him the best draw possible.
Playing the section tournament at The Club, he said, helped him when WPIALs was moved there Monday because of bad weather.
Franklin Regional head coach Howard Fisher said offseason training with different pro coaches and playing matches against some of the top players in the WPIAL prepared Ramesh well for his senior season.
“He has a more complete game this year,” Fisher said. “He's always had amazing ground strokes, especially with the forehand. He now compliments that with so many utility shots. He has a more accurate and consistent serve and has more options in the service game. His net play and ability to hit a drop shot has improved. He can place the ball where he wants. He now has more command of the full court.”
Fisher said Ramesh and fellow senior Connor Warwick, the team captains, have shown great leadership this season.
Ramesh and Warwick will go after a second straight section title in doubles starting Monday at Franklin Regional High School. The two teamed up last year and upended Turner and Price from Penn-Trafford, 6-4, 6-4, in the finals.
“I think we have good chemistry and can win the section title again and do well at WPIALs,” Ramesh said.
Ramesh and Warwick lost in the first round of WPIALs in 2015.
WPIAL doubles is slated for April 25 and 26.
Franklin Regional entered the week 2-0 in Section 1 team action as it attempts to unseat Latrobe as the section champion.
The Panthers went 7-1 in section last year with their only loss coming at the hands of the Wildcats.
FR was to visit Norwin on Wednesday for a section match, and the match was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition. The Panthers travel to Connellsville on Thursday.
“We have a really experienced group of guys,” Ramesh said. “We've all worked hard and want the section title.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.