Sewickley Academy's Ross looks forward to PIAA tournament
Sewickley Academy junior Luke Ross is focusing on the PIAA Class AA boys tennis singles championship tournament next month after winning the WPIAL title in impressive fashion last week.
Ross, 17, of Sewickley reclaimed the crown he won two years ago by downing Carlynton junior Luke Phillips, the defending WPIAL champion, in the final, 6-1, 6-2.
Ross missed last season to train in Florida. He was state runner-up in 2014.
Phillips, 17, of Crafton was impressed by Ross.
“Luke is as good as it gets, especially in Pennsylvania,” he said.
Phillips said it was hard keeping up with Ross while nursing a shoulder injury that forced him to serve underhand earlier in the season.
Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said Ross, who is ranked among the top 200 junior tennis players in the nation, is in fine form.
“He's playing at an extremely high level,” Snyder said. “He's very relaxed.
“Very few things bother him. He's very fit (and) his forehand is a real, real weapon.”
Ross said he has improved a lot in two years and looks forward to returning to the state tournament.
“I'm much more powerful and much more mature,” he said.
Ross gave up only three points in the four matches he played at the WPIAL tournament. In the first two rounds, he shut out both opponents by 10-0 scores.
He beat John Monroe of California in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-1.
Sewickley Academy junior Sam Sauter defeated Monroe in the consolation match 6-4, 6-1 and also qualified for the state tournament.
Sauter, the WPIAL runner-up last season, lost to Phillips in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-4.
Ross said he and Phillips played well in the final.
“It was a fun match,” he said.
Ross also beat Phillips in two sets in the Section 4-AA final April 5.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.