Indiana earned the WPIAL AA Team Tennis championship with a thrilling 3-2 win over Quaker Valley.
1. Zachary Palko (I) d. Mike Sirianni 6-0. 6-2
2. Joey Bujdos (I) d. Andres Hubsch 6-4, 6-2
3. Evan Ray (I) d. Will Sirianni 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
1. Zach Albert and John Watters (QV) d. Sammy Szep and Cormac Pagnucci 6-2, 6-0
2. Potter Oliver and Thomas Pangburn (QV) d. Hammad Affan and Philip Colen 6-4, 6-1
As has been the case for the first three rounds for Indiana, singles players Zach Palko and Joey Bujdos won in fairly decisive straight set matches. Unlike the previous three matches, Indiana's doubles teams lost in straight sets bringing the teams to a 2-2 tie with the #3 singles match still in progress. Making things even more exciting, Indiana's Evan Ray and Quaker Valley's Will Sirianni split sets, setting up a deciding third set and with the rest of the players finished, they lined up behind the courts cheering after every point.
"Sometimes in team tennis matches, you basically just win with little fanfare. Even if the match as a whole is close, individual matches occur simultaneously so the decisive team point might be earned while other matches are still going so not much cheering happens. Today was one of those cool moments when a single match on the court gets to decide the team outcome and what better situation than the WPIAL championship." (Coach Palko)
The third singles match featured two completely different players. Indiana's Evan Ray is a senior and is also a soccer standout, heading to Saint Vincent next year, who plays a very low risk, just get the ball back style. Contrasting that was Quaker Valley's Will Sirianni who plays a more aggressive harder hitting style looking to end points quickly.
"The third singles match became a mental battle in addition to the physical demands of hitting a tennis ball. Respective teams and fans are cheering after each point and each player was very aware that the entire match was riding on the outcome. Evan just really frustrated Will by continuing to just get every ball back in play. Evan's game can be a little unorthodox as he doesn't hit with a lot of pace and likes to slice shots instead of using more common topspin. Will started missing shots and the weight of the match just kept growing. Evan just stayed relaxed, stuck to his game plan, ultimately closing out the match as Will netted a forehand on match point." (Coach Palko)
The win ends a string of three consecutive runner up trophies for Indiana and a string of fifteen consecutive titles for Sewickley Academy who had defeated Indiana in those matches and moved up to AAA this year.
"This was a really exciting match, something that has been missing for years in AA as Sewickley just dominated everyone. Kids were cheering on Evan and Will in the third singles match making the atmosphere was tremendous." (Coach Palko)
Indiana will meet the District 10 champion on Tuesday of next week looking to advance to Hershey for the PIAA team quarterfinals on May 17th.
IHS is 14-4.