Sewickley Academy boys tennis denied state title

Sunday, May 20, 2018 | 12:09 AM

HERSHEY — Sewickley Academy's attempt at a third consecutive PIAA team tennis gold medal was thwarted by perhaps its biggest rival on the state stage.

Wyomissing won a tense three-set match at No. 2 singles Saturday evening to secure a 3-2 verdict in the Class AA state championship, dethroning the Panthers. Sewickley won gold in 2016 and '17.

SA's opponent is the only Class AA team in the state with a resume matching its own. The Spartans are state champs for the fifth time in the last nine years and made finals appearances in three other seasons — including a 5-0 loss to coach Whitney Snyder's crew in Hershey two years ago.

Deadlocked at 2-2, Saturday's final at Hershey Racquet Club came down the match at second singles, where former Wyo No. 1 Will Schreck defeated Nishant Purewal, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, to clinch the title.

SA was angling for its fourth state crown overall in the same time span. The two schools have been fixtures at HRC for years.

“First, I want to pay tribute to Wyomissing,” Snyder said. “They have a wonderful tradition, history and an outstanding culture, and Coach Mike (Gyomber) does a wonderful job.

“There's a culture of excellence, and it takes a long time to build up. You just don't hit a light switch. It's kids, older brothers getting their younger brothers into it, and the younger one catches the passion and pass it along and you build a team concept.”

Snyder, of course, could be referencing his own program. Saturday's title clash played out as expected: a collision of two dominant programs from opposing ends of the state.

“The misconception about tennis is that it's an individual sport. It's not. It's a team sport with tremendous pride,” Snyder said. “And as you saw in this match, it was a heavyweight bout. Well-played from top to bottom.”

Purewal was facing a player in Schreck who was displaced at the top this season by Thailand exchange student Nonpawit Siriungruangsarn, mercifully nicknamed “Title.”

Purewal rallied for a second-set win but could not overcome Schreck's nearly error-free third set. Wyo's No. 2 made one unforced error during the final two games, and that came at the first championship point, with Purewal on serve trailing 0-40.

“He was playing really well, getting a lot of balls back and keeping it deep,” Purewal said. “He didn't make too many errors. But all in all, it was really a fun match.”

Arjan Bedi was Title's opponent at top singles, where the Thailand native displayed superior poise and shot placement in a 6-1, 6-4 victory, the second court off the board.

The first court to be clinched was at No. 1 doubles, where Wyo's Owen Pendergast and James Pottieger beat SA's Dylan Parda and Saarang Mulukutla, 6-4, 6-1.

The Panthers rallied for victories at second doubles and third singles to force the showdown on Purewal's court. Cole Luther and Will Stevenson beat Wyo's Nathan Wang and Colin Campbell, 7-5, 6-3. A few minutes later, Will Nocito dispatched Ben Chen, 6-2, 6-4, to square the match.

Jeff Dewees is a freelance writer.


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