Sewickley Academy tandems continue winning tradition

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Friday, May 18, 2018 | 11:00 PM


Sewickley Academy seniors Will Nocito and Dylan Parda will be carrying on a tradition at the PIAA Class AA boys tennis doubles championship that kicks off Friday at Hershey Racquet Club.

The two are the ninth consecutive Panthers tandem to make the tournament as WPIAL champions.

Nocito and Parda downed teammates Cole Luther and Saarang Mulukutla in the WPIAL final May 11. Luther, a senior, and Mulukutla, a junior, also qualified for states.

Parda said Panthers coach Whitney Snyder deserves a ton of credit.

“He really spends a lot of time with us on the key points of doubles and different strategies,” Parda said. “He's been huge in my growth as a doubles player in my four years on the team.”

Snyder, in his 27th year with the Panthers, said he did not know about the streak.

“Kids enjoy joining forces, having that pride,” he said.

The stretch began in 2010 and picked up steam the following season when Will Kleeman won his first of three titles with different partners.

Ryan Gex picked up where Kleeman left off, winning four crowns, including two with his brother.

Gex and Neil Rana went on to earn the PIAA championship last season, the only ones to do so in the span.

The two Sewickley Academy teams hope to keep that streak alive, too.

Nocito and Parda will meet the third-place team from District 3 in the preliminaries Friday, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals Friday. The semifinals and final will be Saturday.

Luther and Mulukutla will face the District 12 champion in the opening round.

“We want to win,” Parda said.

Mulukutla said he is hungry after missing last season because of surgery.

“I can promise nobody on this team is looking past their next opponent,” he said. “One match at a time, and make sure we play the way we practice, that's the mentality.”

Mulukutla marvels at Luther's ability.

“He's a hockey goalie, so his reflex skills are unmatched, making him ridiculously good at the net while volleying,” Mulukutla said.

The Panthers also have sparkled in singles, capturing the WPIAL title four of the last five seasons.

They have been WPIAL team champions 15 seasons in a row and were seeking their third straight PIAA championship May 18-19.

“We practice sincerely and that makes us successful,” Mulukutla said. “We haven't had many practices this year, but when we have had them, we make sure we are playing to train properly to play in the matches.

“Sometimes, we ask coach to do certain drills that might help with things we've been messing up.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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