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Sewickley Academy captures 13th straight tennis title

| Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 5:39 p.m.

As various Sewickley Academy boys tennis players dominated the individual and doubles divisions of WPIAL Class AA tennis this spring, they expressed a shared sentiment: “This is cool but not the end goal we're all working toward.”

That would be a state title.

Sewickley Academy took an important step forward Wednesday afternoon by sweeping second-seeded Indiana, 5-0, in the WPIAL team championship at Pure Athletex Sportsplex to claim a 13th straight district crown and 17th since 1996. The win extend an undefeated run for Panthers starters in the WPIAL postseason, which dates back to the start of last season's playoffs.

“We practice and prepare ourselves for this moment,” senior Brian Rosario said. “It's not a surprise to us.”

Just like their teammates, Rosario and his first doubles partner, senior Don Gex, won their match in straight sets. Juniors Ryan Gex, Luke Ross and Sam Sauter took care of singles, and junior Neil Rana and senior Dylan Parda secured the second doubles match.

“It's nice to dominate,” Sauter said. “This is a really great way to get good vibes flowing through people's heads, and obviously it's nice to hold the trophy.”

Finding confidence is especially important because while this particular trophy is one the Panthers have familiarity with, the opportunity to collect the other, more elusive plaque awaits.

“We've come so close throughout the years,” Rosario said of the PIAA championship.

Last season, Sewickley Academy lost 3-2 in the state semifinals to eventual champion Moravian Academy. In 2014, Sewickley fell 3-2 in the final to Wyomissing. In 2013, Sewickley's season also ended 3-2 in the semifinal round to Lancaster Country Day.

Sewickley most recently won a state title 10 years ago.

Rosario said this current group is the best he has played with, describing it as more balanced than in previous years.

Sewickley Academy will send six team members to Hershey for the individual PIAA tournament, including the doubles pairs of Rana and Rosario and the Gex brothers. In singles, Ross won the WPIAL title and Sauter finished third to also qualify for the state tournament, to be held May 27-28.

While the opposition will be more challenging in the state draw, Don Gex said he doesn't think the team has to make any sort of mindset adjustments heading into next week's matches.

“We've looked at it the whole year like every match is kind of our last,” Gex said. “Because losing, no matter what, it just stinks.”

As WPIAL runner-up, Indiana also advanced to next week's state playoffs, along with Quaker Valley, which defeated Hopewell, 3-2, in the consolation match at Brady's Run Park on Wednesday.

Jasper Wilson is a freelance writer.

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