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NA beats Fox Chapel, nets title

| Saturday, May 9, 2009

VALENCIA -- Fox Chapel knew Friday's WPIAL Class AAA championship tennis match against North Allegheny would be tough.

But after a 4-1 loss at Lakevue Raquet Club, the Foxes had to think about the positives -- and their next match.

"The only thing I told them on the way home is we got practice Monday," Fox Chapel coach Dave Prevost said. "It's a new season and we'll just take it one day at a time from this point."

Fox Chapel advances to the PIAA tournament, which begins Tuesday. The Foxes (17-2) will play in Erie against an opponent to be determined.

North Allegheny remained undefeated (18-0) and gave veteran coach John Woffington his 607th career win. He was quick to deflect accolades to his players.

"The kids are the ones who did all the work," Woffington said.

And they did it quickly. Except for Matt Kosovec's loss in the first singles match against Section 3-AAA champion Shankar Rajaput, North Hills swept Fox Chapel en route to its fourth WPIAL title.

"They are very good, but we had opportunities and kept it close for a long time but they muscled by," Prevost said.

Matt Smith, the runner-up for the Section 2-AAA singles title, turned in the strongest performance for North Allegheny. Smith defeated Fox Chapel's Rico Certo, 6-0, 6-3, and the Tigers did not lose another match. After falling 6-4 in his opening match, freshman Jon Ho defeated junior Brad Portney with consecutive 6-0 victories.

In doubles, North Allegheny's Andrew Marczak and Sam Gill defeated John Halahyak and Sal Certo, 6-7, 6-3, and 6-0. In the second doubles match, Chris Lippiello and Nick Dulak swept Fox Chapel's Max Baron and Charles Baldwin, 6-4, 6-0.

Fox Chapel could have used Rajaput's efforts in doubles, considering he and Portney were Section 3-AAA runners-up. But Rajaput's services were needed in singles, and he was pleased with his individual performance.

"I didn't want a 5-0 loss today," he said.

North Allegheny will return to the Lakevue Racquet Club on Tuesday for a PIAA first-round match against St. Mary's.

Prevost said his team can't hang their heads.

"Overall we can't complain about the season," he said. "We've achieved every goal we set at the first practice of the year. We won the section, got to the WPIAL finals, and are going to states."

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