Plum tennis team overcomes small numbers

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Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5:00 PM


Plum’s boys tennis team finished 2-8 this spring.

However, the Mustangs were just happy they could compete this season.

Graduation hit the program hard with seven seniors departing from last year’s squad. Only one player — junior Justin North — returned for this campaign so the program ran the risk of not competing this spring.

Five first-time players — juniors Jacob Lecuyer, Praj Perez, Noah Sofran and Jacob Trusky and freshman Aidan Seitz — joined the squad to give it enough players to compete. That made for an interesting season.

“It was really nice because it was just us. There was only one player on the team returning from last year. For the rest of us, it was our first time playing tennis. We were all learning as we went along,” Sofran said.

“It started off pretty rough. I know our record really doesn’t show that we improved a lot. I felt like, over time, we got a lot better. We moved from not really knowing what we were doing to being decent tennis players, and we can hold our own in a tennis match at this point now. I can see that as a success, in my eyes.”

Plum spent most of its time just covering the basics of the sport.

“We scraped and scrounged, but we were able to get a team together,” Plum coach Vince Romito said. “Tennis isn’t that easy; you don’t just pick it up on one month. There was a lot of progress throughout the year, though. First of all, almost all of them had never played before. So, the mistakes they’d make were the basic stuff everyone makes. I just tried to make them aware of it so they could try to correct it.

“I didn’t try to feed them too much information because I wanted them to really absorb some of the main ideas.”

An undermanned and inexperienced team was no match for WPIAL Section 3-3A opponents. The Mustangs went 0-7 in section play.

“It was hard to not be demoralized because you’re going against teams like Fox Chapel, Shady Side and Allderdice and a lot of these teams where you knew the kids were playing probably since they were in elementary school and here we are starting as juniors in high school,” Sofran said.

“We got past that and we were going into matches with the mentality of doing everything we could to win, but we still tried to have fun at the same time.”

Romito just wanted the players to get as much experience as possible throughout the season.

“Everybody got to play, and that was important. Since we only had six players, we’d have to default one of the lines. For nonsection matches, we changed the format around so everybody got to play,” he said. “There are some real strong teams out there in our section like Fox Chapel, Shady Side and Allderdice. All these players are playing year round and taking lessons. Our guys just walk in with a tennis racquet this season, and I understood that. I told them there was no pressure and to just have fun and see what we could do. I think they had fun.

“I am just a little disappointed that they are mostly juniors, and I’ll only have them one more year. Next year, we might be OK, assuming they still like me.”

Sofran said that he and the rest of the players are looking ahead to next spring.

“Definitely,” he said. “I think we all mutually agreed that we’d come back and, hopefully, we can maybe get a few more kids to play.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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