North Allegheny, Sewickley Academy tandems grab gold in WPIAL doubles
North Allegheny senior Jared Isaacs knows disappointment. He came up short in the WPIAL Class AAA boys tennis doubles the past two seasons.
Isaacs and teammate Richard Hofmann finally can add WPIAL champion to their resumes as the duo rolled past No. 7 seeded Naman Dua and Tanay Kumta of Shady Side Academy, 6-1, 6-0, on Tuesday at Club Sport & Health in Monroeville.
“This has been very depressing the past few years, not being able to win the WPIAL championship, and this is definitely the missing piece to the puzzle,” said Isaacs, a Duquesne commit.
“This is only the appetizer. We still have the meat and potatoes at state to do.”
Isaacs and Hofmann are the defending PIAA Class AAA champions. Isaacs is a two-time PIAA champion — he and Kevin Goth won in 2013-14.
It was experience as well as their ability to communicate and anticipate shots that gave the Shady Side duo fits.
“We really can read each other well, and that was a really big factor between us,” Hofmann said. “(Losing last season) was a big motivation. We went into the offseason training harder, training every day to improve ourselves to the point that we could potentially win the WPIAL's.”
In the Class AAA consolation match, No. 3 seeded Christian Vietmeier and Charlie Strohl of Mt. Lebanon downed Shady Side Academy's Cooper Kann and Michael Kann, 6-3, 6-2.
In Class AA, top-seeded brothers Don Gex and Ryan Gex of Sewickley Academy earned their second consecutive WPIAL doubles title with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 3 seeded John Monroe and Josh Wohar of California.
“I'm just really, really happy that I could come back here and play with Ryan again,” Don Gex said. “This is the first step, against a really competitive team, and I'm glad that match came against them, because they were a great first step.”
For younger brother Ryan, a junior, it's his third consecutive Class AA doubles title.
Despite the win, it was clear that Monroe and Wohar weren't going to be intimidated. Playing close to the net early in the first set, Monroe sent a return shot at Don Gex that hit him in the left hand. The 6-foot-3 Gex brushed it off and retaliated with his dominating serve to pace the duo to another championship.
“I think (Don) did a really great job of handling the pressure and the serve,” Ryan Gex said. “We have a lot higher expectations than last year, and we have a lot better team. (On the court), we really have to work together more as partners rather than brothers.”
In the Class AA consolation match, No. 2 seed Neil Rana and Brian Rosario of Sewickley Academy downed No. 4 seed John Appolonia and Kellen Short of Indiana, 6-2, 6-0.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.