Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fox Chapel an Early Favorite

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fox Chapel an Early Favorite

Article excerpt

Every year, the conversation about which school is going to win the WPIAL Class AAA boys tennis championship starts in Fox Chapel. And with good reason.

For the past nine years, a team from that borough has played in the championship match. But the team usually garnering the attention is Shady Side Academy, which has won four titles and finished second on four other occasions.

This time around, though, the focus is almost entirely on Fox Chapel, which has never won a WPIAL team title despite making it to the finals in 2003 and 2009. This year the Foxes aren't just a contender, but the favorite to win it all.

"It's great to have the players to do that and all I do is try to make some small improvements every day," first-year coach Alex Slezak said. "We never set out to be undefeated, and we knew we had the horses to maybe win the WPIAL, but we're just trying to keep the kids focused and working hard."

Fox Chapel has not lost a match this season and clinched the outright Section 3 title with a 3-2 win against Shady Side Academy last week. Among the other teams the Foxes have rolled through are perennial powers North Allegheny, defending champion Upper St. Clair and a win Monday against a Peters Township squad that has its eye on winning it all.

To beat Fox Chapel, though, a team will have to go through two of the top singles players in the WPIAL. Throughout the season, the Foxes have played freshman Robby Shymansky at No. 1 and senior Siddharth Rajupet at No. 2 even though Rajupet beat Shymansky in the WPIAL Class AAA singles semifinals.

Both players qualified for the state singles finals May 27-28 at Hershey Racquet Club, and their presence has been felt throughout the Foxes lineup.

"The other guys feel the pressure that, their teammates are probably going to win and they feel that the matches all hinge on them," Slezak said. "But Robby and Sidd, they've helped the other players just by what we do at practice and, when other kids get with kids like that, it brings up everybody's ball-striking and they both just have a great work ethic. …

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