Hampton tandem capture section title, takes 2nd in WPIAL
By: Devon Moore
Thursday, May 17, 2018 | 11:00 PM
Ted Donegan and Ben Ringeisen prepared for the semifinals to the section doubles championship — but coach Grant McKinney was going to sit out coaching this match. Directly in their path stood another doubles pairing — and it was also from Hampton.
Abheet Badrinath and Tim Miller had pushed their way to the section semifinals, setting up an all-Hampton duel that was indicative of how strong a team the Talbots had this year.
“It was a lot of fun,” said senior captain Donegan, whose team won 6-0, 6-2. “There was a lot of trash talk going on in that match.”
Donegan and Ringeisen then defeated North Allegheny's Richard Hofmann and Ivan Voinov, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), to win the Section 2-AAA title.
The team narrowly missed out on a section title before making it to the Class AAA quarterfinals.
“Coach McKinney said, ‘I'm not going to coach you guys, you guys coach yourselves what to do,' ” Ringeisen said. “We've played in practice but when you play to compete, it's fun. We were having a good time out there.”
Having a good time on a tennis court is likely coupled with relief for the sophomore No. 1 Ringeisen, who sat out the majority of the regular season with a broken fibula sustained during basketball season.
“I tried to hit shots with my boot on,” Ringeisen said. “But physical therapy was a rigorous process. I came back with one game left in the regular season. The getting back into shape part made it tough.”
A lot of tough tennis has been played by both Ringeisen and Donegan. They faced off in the third-place consolation match at the Section 2 singles tournament, which Ringeisen won 6-0, 6-2.
But despite losing in the early rounds at WPIAL singles and in the WPIAL doubles final to Shady Side Academy pair of Nathan Dua and Colin Gramley, the dramatic victory in the section final will be a fond memory.
The duo found themselves down a set to North Allegheny's pair before staging a comeback, and eventually fought off three match points to earn the title via tiebreaker, 8-6.
“It was kind of a miracle game at that point,” Donegan said. “They had three pretty good chances to win, and we pulled it off. I couldn't believe it at the end.”
After earning silver at WPIALs a second year in a row, the duo will compete in the PIAA tournament May 25-26 in Hershey, where they won one match last year.
Donegan thinks the two pair well together with contrasting styles.
“Ben is a power hitter and can play the baseline. I'm more of a guy that runs things down and can place shots well,” Donegan said. “Having very different games can throw off the opponent, and if one can't do something, the other can. We complement each other well.”
Ringeisen also feels like the experience has helped both improve — maybe well enough to get past what could be an always difficult second round matchup against a top seed from the Philadelphia suburbs.
“I think we built off what we had last year,” he said. “Ted has been really helpful with me getting back. Obviously, I'm not as quick as I'd like to be right now.
“Sometimes when we play a point, we don't need to talk. We just know where the other person is going to be. We've just built that relationship, and we feel like we'll carry that into states with us.”
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.