Shady Side Academy boys tennis confident after undefeated start

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Saturday, April 10, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Shady Side alum Sam Miller took over the school’s boys tennis program before last year and was two weeks into his tenure before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the spring sports season.

A change in leadership and lost season haven’t stopped the Bulldogs from getting off to a hot start in 2021.

After four matches, the Bulldogs are undefeated and have built their record in dominant fashion. They defeated Woodland Hills, Central Catholic and Baldwin, 5-0, and Mt. Lebanon pushed them to the limit with a 3-2 decision after the Blue Devils’ third singles player was forced to withdraw.

“What’s great is that we’ve kept the lineup the same for the first four matches,” Miller said. “But now that we have some practice time, we are going to try and see if anybody else can pitch in because the talent and the desire is there from the guys on the outside looking in right now.”

Senior captain Colin Gramley and Adeel Piracha, who played for the Section 3-3A singles title April 8, have led the way for the Bulldogs in their undefeated start. Senior Adam Lauer, who placed second in the WPIAL individual golf championships last fall, also came out for the tennis team and has given the Bulldogs a solid No. 3 singles player.

Miller said sophomore David Mnuskin was set to compete for a spot in the starting rotation this year as well but an injury in the preseason will keep him out of the lineup. He also was set to compete for a starting spot last year as a freshman.

Sam Bitzer and Will Karet have played together at No. 1 doubles and freshman Chase Hartman, along with Thomas Certo, have held down the No. 2 doubles spot. Miller said Maxwell Rost, Daniel Lee and Robert Brunins could see time in the starting lineup as well.

Given their start, and the talent that they have, Miller said the Bulldogs are playing with confidence.

“We always want to play with a good level of confidence day in and day out, while also realizing that the WPIAL and the state level are full of great teams so we don’t want to take anything for granted,” Miller said. “But, this early success, this 4-0 start, there’s definitely a sense of confidence and desire to keep building on it.”

That’s not the only thing the Bulldogs have going for them either as they also have a certain sense of motivation.

Two years ago, the Bulldogs lost to Fox Chapel, 3-2, in the WPIAL championship match. They were set to have an even better team last year. So, with two seniors returning from that WPIAL runner-up finish, Miller said there is a certain drive among his players to get back to where they were in 2019.

“We felt that last year’s team was going to be a very good team as well, and we know the WPIAL and even the PIAA is full of lots of great players, but being that close is definitely motivation,” Miller said. “Coupled with the fact that this will be their last go as seniors, it’s definitely motivating, and they show the urgency and the desire every day in practice to get back to that level.”

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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