Sewickley Academy brothers defend WPIAL doubles title
Sewickley Academy tennis players Don and Ryan Gex won their second consecutive WPIAL Class AA boys doubles title April 26, but with some unfinished business ahead, they didn't do much celebrating.
The brothers, who live in Sewickley Heights, qualified for the state tournament next month and hope to do better than last season, when they were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
“Our journey isn't close to being over,” said Don, 18, a senior. “We left last year's tournament feeling like we could have put more forward.
“If we stick to our game plan (and) don't hold back and have fun, we can achieve this goal.”
Ryan, 17, a junior who won the WPIAL crown with Luke Vith in 2014, expects a more relaxed attitude to help.
“I think there is a little incentive to win with this being (Don's) last year, but win or lose, he's going to a good (college),” Ryan said. “We want to make states a happy-to-be-there situation (rather) than pressure.”
Don is considering playing club or intramural tennis at Duke next season.
Competing as Section 4-AA champions, the duo was impressive at the WPIAL championship, where it won semifinal and final matches each in two sets.
Their closest decision came in the final, in which they downed John Monroe and Josh Wohar of California, 6-4, 6-4.
Sewickley Academy's Neil Rana and Brian Rosario placed third and also advanced to the PIAA tournament.
Rana and Rosario, the Section 4-AA runners-up, beat a team from Indiana in the consolation match after losing to Monroe and Vohar in the semifinals.
Rana, 16, of Ohio Township said he and Rosario hope to win one or two rounds at the state tournament.
Don Gex said his and his brother's strategy was simple.
“We just stuck to our game plan,” he said.
Ryan Gex said as well as he and Don played, they can get better.
“We can improve on communication a little, even though we do a lot of talking during and after the point,” he said. “There was a couple times when one didn't know what the other was going to do.”
Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder expects the siblings to improve the more they play.
Ryan and Don have competed in singles and doubles, respectively, in team matches for the Panthers, who are 8-0 in the section and favored to win their 13th straight WPIAL title.
The Gex brothers will be seeking their second state titles of the school year.
Don was on the Panthers' boys soccer team that won the PIAA Class A championship, and Ryan was a member of the Sewickley Academy boys golf squad that earned the PIAA Class AA title after winning the WPIAL championship last fall.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.