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Sewickley Academy's Ross ends special season with PIAA gold

| Sunday, May 29, 2016, 11:27 p.m.
Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross stands on the podium with his PIAA singles tennis gold medal.
Sewickley Academy's Luke Ross stands on the podium with his PIAA singles tennis gold medal.

Sewickley Academy junior Luke Ross said his goal was to be a state individual and team tennis champion.

Ross, 17, of Sewickley put the finishing touches to that by taking first place at the PIAA Class AA singles championship tournament Saturday in Hershey.

He led the Panthers to their first team title since 2006 earlier in the month.

Ross, a two-time WPIAL champion, beat Carlynton junior Luke Phillips, 6-3, 6-3, in the final.

Both players qualified for the state tournament by placing first and second, respectively, at the WPIAL championship in April.

Ross waited two years for the state crown, the Panthers' first by a boys singles player.

After finishing second in 2014, Ross missed last season to train in Florida.

“It was awesome,” Ross said. “Luke (Phillips) is a great player and every match is a battle with him.”

Ross won all four of his contests in straight sets.

Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said Ross deserved the championship.

“He's made a major commitment (to tennis) and has been rewarded for all his hard work,” Snyder said. “It couldn't happen to a nicer kid.”

Ross plays year-round and ranks among the top 125 junior players in the nation.

Ross helped the Panthers to their 13th consecutive WPIAL team title this season.

He looks forward to next season, when he and most of the other players are expected back.

Brothers Don and Ryan Gex earned medals by placing third at the PIAA doubles championship.

Don, a senior, and Ryan, a junior, bounced back in the consolation match after losing in three sets in the semifinals.

They won their second consecutive WPIAL doubles title this year.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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