Sewickley Academy tennis celebrates PIAA sweep
Sewickley Academy players competed individually, but did not act it in the PIAA Class AA boys tennis singles and doubles championships May 26-27 in Hershey.
Coach Whitney Snyder said the Panthers treated the tournament as an extension of the team championship the week before.
And it worked.
The Panthers captured singles and doubles titles after repeating as team champion.
Senior Luke Ross survived a scare in the semifinals to defend his singles crown. Ross, a Georgetown recruit and three-time WPIAL champion, needed three sets to reach the final.
Ross, 18, of Sewickley said a strong cheering section that included senior and quarterfinal loser Sam Sauter inspired him.
“Half the team was there,” he said.
Georgetown coach Gordie Ernst said he was impressed by Ross' toughness at states and expects that to help him with the Hoyas next season.
Senior Ryan Gex, a record four-time WPIAL champion, breezed to his first PIAA doubles title, winning all four matches with senior Neil Rana in straight sets.
Gex, 18, of Sewickley Heights has been on state championship teams in various sports but said this prize probably was the most meaningful because he and Rana achieved it on their own.
“Being a doubles state champion is definitely one of the best feelings (I have) ever had,” Gex said. “Accomplishing this feat with one of my best friends since kindergarten and being able to win our last match ever in high school is unparalleled to anything I've accomplished.”
Rana, 17, of Sewickley said the experience is unforgettable.
Freshman Arjan Bedi and junior Nishant Purewal came in third in doubles, but it was not easy.
The duo needed a second-set tiebreaker in the consolation match after losing in three sets, plus a tiebreaker, in the semifinals.
“Although we lost the semifinal match, I believe we played our best in that match and that inspired us to go out and win out last match of the season,” said Bedi, 15, of Collier.
Purewal, 17, of Sewickley is eager for next season.
“We're losing four of our starters, and if we're looking to win another state championship, we will have to really step up our game to fill in single spots,” he said.
Sewickley Academy won the WPIAL team title for the 14th season in a row. Snyder said it was the first time in his 26 years as coach the Panthers swept PIAA team and individual championships.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.