Sewickley Academy's Gex celebrates 4th WPIAL doubles title
Sewickley Academy senior Ryan Gex has won a record four WPIAL Class AA boys tennis doubles titles, but one thing remains.
A state crown.
He and senior Neil Rana hope to take care of that in the PIAA tournament May 26-27 in Hershey.
The pair advanced by taking first place in the WPIAL championship May 11-12.
Rana said he and Gex have momentum.
“Our goal is to play our best and to have fun,” he said. “I think if we focus on playing our best, the wins will follow.”
Seeded first, Gex and Rana, the Section 4-AA champions, dropped only four points in three matches at WPIALs. They beat California's John Monroe and Josh Wohar in the final, 6-0, 6-1.
Monroe and Wohar were runners-up to Gex and his brother, Don, last season, which Ryan Gex said made this year's win more rewarding.
“Knowing that California would have raised their game meant they would be better and want revenge,” he said.
Gex also won with his brother in 2015. He and Luke Vith were champions in 2014.
The farthest he's gone at states is the semifinals twice.
Rana will be making his third trip to the PIAA tournament after finishing third in the WPIAL with Brian Rosario in 2016 and second with Wyatt Geller in 2015. The best he's done at states is a quarterfinal appearance last year.
Gex, of Sewickley Heights, said he and Rana make good partners because they are friends.
“The biggest thing that makes us compatible is our willingness to listen to each other during the match and pick each other up if one of us is struggling at some point,” Gex said.
“I believe this could be something that sets us apart from other teams.”
Rana, who lives in Sewickley, agreed communication is their greatest asset.
“Ryan is very supportive,” he said. “Even if I miss a shot, Ryan never dwells on it and always just turns our focus to the next point.”
Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said Gex is team-oriented.
“He's just so enjoyable to coach,” he said. “He really puts others first.”
Snyder said the win was a big deal for Rana, and he played exceptionally well.
Panthers' freshman Arjan Bedi and junior Nishant Purewal placed third and also qualified for states.
Sewickley Academy, the defending champion, was scheduled to play Bedford in the first round of the PIAA playoffs Tuesday. The Panthers won their 14th consecutive WPIAL title this season.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.