New Gateway duo wins WPIAL doubles title; Montour team makes school history

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | 9:26 PM


When Gateway junior Adam Memije advanced to the WPIAL Class 3A singles championship match two weeks ago 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 last week, and they continued their winning ways Tuesday and Wednesday at North Allegheny.

The top-seeded Gators duo won four matches over 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 then held serve to win the title match’s first set.

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 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 in his first varsity season in 2023.

“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.”

Franklin Regional senior Dhruv Kulkarni played in his third WPIAL doubles tournament in as many years.

Two years ago, he was the Class 3A runner-up with then-senior Prerit Yadav. Last year, he and partner Aaron Allen, as the sixth seed, were upended in a close first-round match.

This time around, Kulkarni and freshman Colin Stalnaker made it to the semifinals before falling to Hassan and Memije.

But the fifth-seeded Panthers duo bounced back Tuesday in three sets to earn bronze. Kulkarni and Stalnaker were strong in the third set, winning 6-2. They won the first set 6-1 and dropped the second set 3-6 to the Fox Chapel duo of seniors Travis Malone and Ben Hallman.

They now are the first alternate for the state tournament and would go should either the Gateway or Upper St. Clair teams not be able to represent the WPIAL.

Class 2A

History was made Wednesday as the Montour duo of junior John Rohrkaste and sophomore Jonah Camardese-Woodruff won the first WPIAL title of any kind in the history of the Spartans boys tennis program.

Montour coach Eric D’Antonio said it is not uncommon to see his team play close sets, and close is what both sets were in the finals against the Sewickley Academy team of seniors Jackson Quigley and Tejas Mitra.

The Spartans swept their Panthers counterparts but both sets almost went to a tiebreaker. Rohrkaste and Camardese-Woodruff won 7-5, 7-5 to secure the gold medals.

“This is the best feeling in the world,” Rohrkaste said. “I lost in the quarterfinals of WPIAL singles, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. But me and Jonah, we came out here and regardless of what happened, we’re going to have fun. If we won, we won, and if we lost, we lost. But when the odds were against us, we kept fighting. We found ways to win. Jonah just started playing last year, and for both of us to come this far, it’s something special.”

Now, Rohrkaste and Camardese-Woodruff will prepare themselves to enter the PIAA tournament May 24-25. Quigley and Mitra also advance to states.

“The big thing for us is just to win and keep this going in the state tournament,” Camardese-Woodruff said. “We know we have some things to work on, but we’re excited to be able to do that with a goal in mind. We know all of those teams at states are tough.”

The WPIAL championship final was a matchup some might not have expected considering Rohrkaste and Camardese-Woodruff were the No. 4 seed, while Quigley and Mitra were seeded sixth.

Rohrkaste and Camardese-Woodruff upended Sewickley Academy’s top-seeded freshman duo of Max Kopf and Ben Terrell, 7-6 (0), 6-3, in Tuesday’s semifinals.

Quigley and Mitra defeated the Quaker Valley No. 7-seeded team of seniors Grant Webb and Matteo Castellini, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, in the other semifinal match.

“Jackson had a really good forehand,” Rohrkaste said. “He was always there holding the baseline well and had some good volleys, too. Tejas’ serve was solid. We only broke him once. Not many shots got past him. They made us fight for every single point.”

Webb and Castellini prevailed in the consolation match for third with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Kopf and Terrell. Both teams knew they weren’t done after Wednesday’s match as the top four teams from WPIAL Class 2A advance to the PIAA tournament.

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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