Gateway boys tennis captures long-awaited section championship

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Sunday, April 23, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The last time the Gateway boys tennis team captured a section title, Bill Clinton was ramping up his campaign to become President of the United States, Duke has just routed Michigan to win the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, and “Jump” by the hip-hop duo Kris Kross was moving up the charts.

The 1992 Gators won their second section crown in three years, but over the past three decades, Gateway teams, to no avail, tried to put a winning lineup together an add more titles to the banner that hangs in the Furrie Sports Complex.

That drought came to a close earlier this month as the Gators finished Section 1-3A play undefeated and secured the goal of taking home the championship.

“The kids are just so excited to bring a championship back to the program,” first-year Gateway boys tennis coach Emily Levine said.

“I feel there is so much positive energy around the team right now. Everyone is getting along so well. We’ve seen a lot of improvement among all of the players. They are not satisfied with just winning the section title. They have the WPIAL tournament still to play, and the players are hungry for another goal to reach. It won’t be easy, but they are really excited to play some really good teams and see what they can do.”

The WPIAL Class 3A team tournament, involving the top four teams from each of the four sections, is slated to begin May 1 and conclude the week of May 8.

Gateway will be represented in the WPIAL team tournament for the first time since 2009.

The Gators finished Section 1 play at 6-0 with a sweep of Penn-Trafford on April 13.

Sophomores Adam Memije and Zidaan Hassan and freshman Logan Memije swept their way to wins in the top three singles matches.

Sophomore Matthew Bandos and senior Zack Meshanko did the same at No. 1 doubles, and junior Blake Marsh and freshman Troy Boden outlasted their opponents in three sets at No. 2 doubles.

In what ended up being the section decider March 30, Gateway outlasted defending section champion Franklin Regional, 3-2.

Hassan and Logan Memije swept their opponents at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, and Franklin Regional took both doubles matches.

It came down to No. 1 singles where Adam Memije outlasted Panthers’ No. 1 Aaron Allen, a senior, in three sets.

“That match was really amazing to watch, not only for the level of tennis being played, but for the amount of sportsmanship being showed by both teams,” Levine said.

“You saw that even with the parents, because a lot of the players and their families know each other from both teams. Everyone was cheering for everyone, and there was so much respect for the players and the outcome of each match. I am sure Franklin Regional was disappointed about not winning the section because they’ve had the title for so long, but they were very gracious towards us.”

With the team accolades, Gateway also has made its mark in singles and doubles tournaments.

Adam Memije took home the section singles title March 29 with a win over Hassan at Franklin Regional.

The two teamed up for the section doubles tournament April 19 at Franklin Regional, and the duo, as the No. 2 seed, rolled to the title.

After receiving a bye past the first round, Memije and Hassan took out their next two opponents, 10-0, and then 6-0, 6-0.

That set up a one versus two showdown for the title with the Franklin Regional team of Allen and junior Drhruv Kulkarni.

Memije and Hassan were solid in the finals with a 6-1, 6-3 win.

“Both (Gateway) teams really showed up (Wednesday) on the court,” Levine said.

“Adam and Zidaan just blew it out of the water. They just played seamlessly together with great communication. Their tennis skills really shined.”

Logan Memije and Meshanko were seeded fourth and were able to shake off a semifinal setback to Allen and Kulkarni to top FR’s No. 2 team — senior Aditya Arkalgud and Joshua Selvakumar — 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the third-place consolation.

“That was the first time Logan and Zack played doubles together, and they did so well,” Levine said.

“They really stuck to it in that third set and were focused. They worked hard and got the job done. We were so proud of their level of play.

“It was a lot of tennis with three matches in one day, and both teams really gave great efforts. It was a beautiful day, but when you are out there on the court, it’s hot. To start with a No. 2 and No. 4 seed and finish with a No. 1 and a No. 3, it was a great day all-around.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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