Fox Chapel tennis team celebrates win over rival in WPIAL finals, PIAA 1st-round victory

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Saturday, May 21, 2022 | 2:35 PM


Many WPIAL championship teams suffer a letdown in their first PIAA tournament game.

Not Fox Chapel’s boys tennis team, however.

The Foxes, after a convincing, 5-0 victory over Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL Class 3A finals May 11, won their PIAA opener over City League champion Carrick by the identical score.

One reason is the fact that Fox Chapel didn’t take the Raiders lightly.

“It was a good effort by Carrick, but we were prepared,” Foxes coach Alex Slezak said. “We wanted this to be a stepping stone to the next round.”

Fox Chapel then took its 14-1 record on to Hershey Racquet Club for the quarterfinals May 20-21. The Foxes were set to play Conestoga from the Philadelphia suburbs.

“We’re prepared, we know we have a job to do,” Slezak said. “The win over Carrick was a great win, we celebrated and now we’re ready to do the next job that we need done.”

The WPIAL title match victory was surprising to a number of observers, considering that the Foxes lost to Shady Side, 4-1, during the section season, thus denying Fox Chapel a 26th team section title. The Foxes were seeded sixth.

In singles competition at the WPIAL finals, Fox Chapel posted wins over the two players who won WPIAL doubles the week before.

Sophomore Will Siegel defeated Shady Side’s David Mnuskin, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Junior Cooper Friday was victorious over Sam Bitzer, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6.

“It’s great to have a rivalry with Shady Side,” Slezak said. “I know many of the Shady Side kids from teaching tennis at the Fox Chapel Golf Club, and I know many of the kids who belong to the golf club. We compete seriously against each other, but we root for each other as well. Having such a rival pushes you to be better.”

Not to be lost in the recap of the finals played at Washington & Jefferson College’s Janet L. Swanson Tennis Center was an impressive win by Ananth Kashyap over the Bulldogs’ Chase Hartman, 7-6, 6-2.

In first doubles, it was sophomore Travis Malone and freshman Mason Friday prevailing. Then junior Jack Delaney and sophomore Ben Hallman won to complete the sweep and give the Foxes their fifth WPIAL team title in the last six seasons.

“We had a plan to execute for the doubles, and they executed it and it worked out really well for us,” Slezak said. “The players all showed up and were ready to play.”

“We all knew that our seeding didn’t mean anything,” Siegel told the Tribune-Review. “Our coach told us that seeds are what other people think of you, but the results are what you think of yourself.”

Siegel also said that the WPIAL title means so much because the team has known each other since “we were really young.”

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