Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Usc Doubles Its Fun for Wpial Crown

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Usc Doubles Its Fun for Wpial Crown

Article excerpt

It was fitting that Shady Side Academy was the setting for last week's WPIAL Class AAA boys' team tennis championship match between Upper St. Clair and North Allegheny.

In those three schools' combined hallways rests the past 10 championship trophies, including one from this year that belongs to the USC Panthers after a 4-1 victory.

"It was a great feeling," first singles player Evan Reese said. "Upper St. Clair hadn't won it since 1998, and we wanted to win it for the seniors on the team."

The Panthers restored the roar to a program that boasted four consecutive WPIAL titles from 1995-98, but hadn't been to the finals since.

"None of these kids here have won it," eight-year Upper St. Clair coach Ron Mercer said. "This is a new experience for them."

The second-seeded Panthers made their run in style, losing only one individual match in four playoff matches. The depth was the Panthers' strength, said Mercer. Their first doubles team (senior Jeff Rickel and sophomore Alex Su) is a PIAA qualifier. "Doubles wins championships," said Mercer.

The second doubles team of juniors Andy Smith and Joe Tucker proved that. Literally. With the Panthers winning two of the three singles matches (Todd Becker fell at second singles), second doubles was the match that clinched the championship for Upper St. Clair.

"We pulled it out. It was kind of a long match, but we got it, so that's all that matters," Smith said.

When Smith and Tucker converted match point to polish off a 5-7, 6-0, 6-0 win, celebration ensued, even with the first doubles match yet to be decided.

The event attracted a gathering of nearly 100 people if you count the remainder of both teams' rosters, officials, coaches, parents and fans. Reese plays in a variety of tournaments year-round and carries a No. 4 Middle States and No. 184 national USTA ranking. …

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