SA tennis turns focus to states

Friday, May 11, 2018 | 11:00 PM

After breezing to its 15th consecutive WPIAL title, the Sewickley Academy boys tennis team is seeking a three-peat at the PIAA Class AA championship tournament this week.

“We are all really excited, and, for some of us, (it's) a new experience,” sophomore Arjan Bedi said. “If we just go out and play, we will be successful.”

Bedi and senior Nishant Purewal lead the Panthers.

Doubles players last season, they came in first and third, respectively, at the WPIAL singles championship earlier this month and qualified for states.

Seniors Will Nocito, Dylan Parda and Cole Luther, junior Saarang Mulukutla and sophomore Will Stevenson are other players.

Nocito and Parda paired for the Section 4-AA doubles crown, downing Luther and Mulukutla in the final in two sets. Both teams advanced to the WPIAL tournament and faced each other Friday in the finals, with Nocito and Parda earning the WPIAL title.

The Panthers, who went 8-0 in the section, were scheduled to meet the District 9 champion in the first round Tuesday with the winner moving to the quarterfinals Friday at the Hershey Racquet Club.

The semifinals and final will be Saturday at Hershey.

Parda said the Panthers have been ready for the tournament all year.

“We're gonna try our best to win, and we know every team is gonna do the same,” he said.

Purewal believes the Panthers have a chance as long as everyone works hard and stays mentally with it.

Panthers coach Whitney Snyder is proud of his players and said he is excited for them.

Quaker Valley failed to make states for the first time in three seasons. The Quakers (7-0 in Section 2-AA) lost by a point to South Park in the WPIAL consolation match for the final spot.

Top players for the Quakers were junior Andres Hubsch, sophomore John Watters, sophomore Zach Albert, freshman Matt Kubinski, junior Potter Oliver, senior Tilman Cooper and freshman Thomas Pangburn.

Albert and Watters teamed for the section doubles title.

First-year coach Christi Hays said between the weather and her taking over shortly before the season, there were a lot of challenges.

“We were a young team and look to mature, both strategically and emotionally,” she said. “We need to continue to work on developing a varsity mindset, which consists of more consistency, doing all the peripheral work in the offseason, taking no shortcuts and being open to learn and grow.

“My four returning players from last year's PIAA quarterfinalist team thought that getting back to states would be easy. Hopefully, it made the boys hungry for next year.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.


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