Twice as nice for Sewickley Academy doubles team of Nocito, Parda

Saturday, May 26, 2018 | 10:39 PM

HERSHEY — Sewickley Academy wound up carrying the WPIAL banner this weekend at the PIAA tennis championships at Hershey Racquet Club.

The senior duo of Will Nocito and Dylan Parda captured the Class AA doubles championship Saturday evening at HRC with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Wyomissing's Will Schreck and James Potteiger. They were the WPIAL's lone gold-medal winners.

Nocito and Parda, lifelong friends, opened play Saturday morning with an exhausting 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 win over Tyrone's Paul Lemaire and Ethan Vipond in the semifinals before beating Wyomissing's top pairing for the title.

“The championship match presented a bit of a different challenge for us, because we had just come off a two-hour, 40-minute semifinal match,” Parda said. “We were exhausted. I was severely cramping up. So we were just trying to be able to get me to play this match. So we knew we had to play smart, get off the court quick and take care of business.”

It explained Sewickley Academy's efficiency, especially during the first set, against Schreck and Potteiger. The points were played aggressively in attempts to quickly end them. “We tried to close them quickly at the net,” Parda said.

Nocito watched his partner rally physically when he wasn't sure there would be a title match.

“Dylan totally underestimated himself,” Nocito said. “He was literally lying face down 30 minutes before the match. I give this title all to him. He fought through it. I don't think people realize how much pain he was in.”

Nocito and Parda were part of SA's silver-medal finish to Wyomissing at the team tennis tournament earlier in the month. The revenge-is-sweet angle is a tempting one, but SA coach Whit Snyder isn't buying it.

“I think the team thing is totally different from individuals,” Snyder said. “It's a different tournament, a different time. I think they're speaking from emotion because they've been on the team for four years. They've been through high and lows, the wins and losses and they're best friends since kindergarten. Any time you get to play with your best friend in any sport at any time, it makes it extra special.”

Sophomore Arjan Bedi was the Panthers' lone singles representative. He went out in the semifinals 6-1, 6-4 to Westmont Hilltop senior Adam Kush, who earned a service break at 3-all in the second set.

“I just got beat by a better player today,” Bedi said. “He did everything right. … It's always tough (giving up a break) because he was serving so well. It was tough to come back from that. But this year was very rewarding for me. My goal coming into the season was to play the best tennis I could, and I think I did that.”

Kush later lost in AA title match to Jon Nottingham of District 12's Masterman, 7-5, 7-5.

In Class AAA, Shady Side Academy's Naman Dua and Colin Gramley earned a doubles finals berth before falling to Cathedral Prep's Joe DeMarco and Alec Thomas, 6-1, 6-4, for silver. Dua and Gramley, junior and freshman, respectively, defeated Great Valley's Nikhil Gangoli and Sam Kesti 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 earlier Saturday in the semifinals.

“They were really seasoned,” Dua said of DeMarco and Thomas. “They're seniors. They were bigger than us. Most of the time, when were down in matches we were able to come back.”

Gramley: “We had a great run to get here. First match, we were serving really well.”

Junior Robby Shymansky of Fox Chapel squared off against three-time District 3 champion Holden Koons from Dallastown in a morning session singles semifinal. Shymansky won the first set in a 7-5 tiebreak, before Koons rallied for a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 victory. Koons later lost to Great Valley's Sameer Grangoli 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-2 in the AAA championship match.

Shymansky rallied to capture bronze in the third-place match with a 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 win over Unionville's Tristan Bradley.

Jeff Dewees is a freelance writer.

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