Quaker Valley rallies for 1st WPIAL title since ’03

Sunday, May 16, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Two years ago, the Quaker Valley boys tennis team came up just short of winning its first WPIAL title since 2003, falling to Indiana, 3-2, in the WPIAL final.

Ever since, the Quakers have been looking for redemption.

On May 12, after earning the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class AA boys tennis team tournament, the Quakers got it with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over South Park at North Allegheny.

“Two years ago, we lost in the third set 3-2,” senior captain Thomas Pangburn said. “So, we wanted it really badly this year. It’s been two years in the making honestly.”

Leading up to the WPIAL final, Quaker Valley coach Christi Hays said she allowed her players to pull on that experience from two years ago, and they were motivated enough to pull through with a victory.

“We talked about it a lot this past week, and I said, ‘Guys, look, we’ve had some disappointments. We let some opportunities get away from us. This is another opportunity, but with opportunity comes responsibility and it’s up to you guys to just get it done,’ ” Hays said.

The Quakers weren’t going to let this opportunity slip through their fingers.

Junior Mike Sirianni led off the day by winning first singles with ease 6-2, 6-1 over South Park’s Joe Toth, but the Quakers dropped matches at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, leaving them down a point as both doubles matches went to three sets.

But throughout this season, Hays has boasted about her team’s depth, especially her doubles teams, which include senior captains Pangburn and Jack Bresch.

“My first doubles always like to go to three sets. I think they like the drama,” Hays said with a laugh. “But then to have it come down to this, you can’t really write a screenplay that good.”

After winning the first set 6-1, Pangburn and teammate Mike Lipton dropped the second set to South Park’s Alex Duing and Tim Lakatos, 4-6. With the WPIAL title on the line, Pangburn and Lipton responded with a dominating 6-2 performance that allowed them to keep their title hopes alive.

“My partner and I thought two of our singles had won, so we thought that we had won WPIALs when we won,” Pangburn said. “But when we got off the court, they said that we hadn’t yet.”

So, all the pressure was on Bresch and teammate Justin Hajdukiewicz, but coincidentally enough they also thought they had already won. So, as their teammates cheered on each point they won, they didn’t necessarily understand the pressure on them.

They came through with the victory anyway. After not serving an ace all season, Bresch started off the final game of the match with an ace before he and his teammate went on to earn a 6-3 victory and deliver the Quakers their first WPIAL title in nearly 18 years.

“I just had to put it all on the table and whatever happened, happened,” Bresch said. “I was just hoping for the best.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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