Gateway tennis again finds success in WPIAL doubles tournament

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Sunday, April 28, 2024 | 11:01 AM


When Gateway junior Adam Memije advanced to the WPIAL Class 3A singles championship match April 10 and qualified for the PIAA tournament, and fellow Gators junior Zidaan Hassan lost in the semifinals, Hassan knew immediately that to win a second straight WPIAL doubles title, he would have to do it with a new partner.

Enter Adam’s brother, sophomore Logan Memije.

Hassan and Logan Memije, Gateway’s No. 3 singles player, meshed well in winning the Section 1-3A title two weeks ago, and they continued their winning ways last week at North Allegheny.

The top-seeded Gators duo won four matches over the two days, earning the gold medals with a hard-fought 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over the seasoned Upper St. Clair duo of senior Ronan Gibbons and Ari Plutko.

“This is a great feeling,” Hassan said. “Winning back-to-back-titles is super nice. We got the job done in this tournament. We knew that when we became partners that we were going to go for it. We weren’t going to settle or be satisfied with anything else than the title. We played really well together last week and this week.”

Gibbons and Plutko broke serve to lead 5-4 in the title match’s first set and then held serve to go up 1-0.

Hassan and Memije stormed back, winning six of the seven games in set two and holding serve to clinch the set to knot up the match.

The third set was tied 4-4, before Hassan and Memije broke their counterparts’ serve to take a 5-4 lead.

An emphatic slam of a return by Hassan into an open part of the court in what turned out to be the final game of the match got the Gateway duo fired up.

Both of the final two games of the third set went to deuce.

“I was really proud to play with Zidaan, and he deserved to be a double champion again,” said Logan Memije, who made the WPIAL doubles quarterfinals with the now-graduated Zachary Meshanko in his first varsity season last spring.

“I didn’t want to let him down. We knew we had a shot to win a WPIAL title, and I just had to perform. (Gibbons and Plutko) were so good. They had big serves, good volleys, good poaching. We were able to do the little things to be able to outlast them.”

The teams from Gateway and Upper St. Clair will test their mettle against the rest of the state when they head to Hershey for the PIAA Class 3A tournament May 24-25.

“At states, we need to be solid as possible, so there are things we can work on to be better,” Hassan said.

“We have a month to do that, and we’re going to work hard to be ready.”

Last year, Hassan and Adam Memije won their first two matches at states, defeating the District 3 third-place team and the District 1 runner-up to make the semifinals before a loss there in three sets, including two tiebreakers, to the District 3 champs sent them to the third-place match.

The Gators duo rebounded to claim the bronze medals with a straight-set victory.

Those District 3 champions, Palmyra’s Aidan and Tyler Mahaffey, went on to win the state title. They were juniors last year and could pair up again for another run at gold.

“I was very proud of both Zidaan and Logan because they don’t normally play doubles that often,” Gateway coach Matt Stockunas said.

“For them to gel the way they did over that two-week period and make a run in the WPIAL tournament was awesome to see. As soon as they knew they would be playing together, they were pumped up and ready to go. They keep getting better and better the more they play together, so I am excited to see them to compete at states.”

It wasn’t just Hassan and Logan Memije paired up at WPIALs, as the Gateway combination of senior Matthew Bandos and sophomore Troy Boden qualified as the No. 15 seed.

They got an up-close view of Gibbons and Plutko in the first round and were not able to advance in a 10-1 pro-set loss.

All four Gateway players joined their teammates for a WPIAL team title defense which was to start Tuesday with a match against the winner of a preliminary round contest between Penn-Trafford and North Hills.

The second-seeded Gators headed into the WPIAL tournament 9-0 overall and Section 1 champions at 6-0.

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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