South Xtra: Bentworth's Lynch earns PIAA berth in singles

HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS

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Matt Lynch's schedule is different from most high school tennis players.

Lynch may practice in the morning, afternoon or evening. It largely depends on the schedule of Mike Lynch, his father and coach.

Matt Lynch's schedule is so flexible because unlike most of his opponents who go to school the same hours each day, he is home-schooled.

"It's nice being home-schooled because it gives me that freedom to go out for a few hours and hit and I can come back and work on my schooling into the night," Matt Lynch said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

He also doesn't play in team matches. He represents Bentworth High School, but is the only player on the "team." So he has to get all of his match play experience in weekend tournaments and by hitting the ball around with players such as St. Vincent College's Tony Constantino and Greater Latrobe High School's Chad Kissell.

"I don't know, it probably balances out because they're getting match play and I'm getting match play," Lynch said.

One thing that Lynch changed in his schedule this year was his offseason schedule. Mike Lynch said his son hits about three to four times a week, but it's usually not at a high-intensity level.

But that changed after Lynch lost in the 2012 WPIAL Class AA consolation finals to Hampton's Brad Cisek, which sent Cisek to the PIAA tournament and left Lynch with extra motivation for this year.

"After I lost last year, I got into it and really wanted to come back and work harder and get to where I am now," Lynch said.

Where he is now is a state tournament qualifier.

Lynch defeated Greensburg Central Catholic senior Bargo Patel, 6-1, 6-4, in this season's WPIAL Class AA singles tournament consolation final April 16 at Lakevue Country Club in Valencia.

"It's an accomplishment [making states]," Mike Lynch said. "It's something he's worked for the last couple years. ... It's nice to get there, even coming in third in the WPIAL. I think he's excited about it."

Lynch, who lives in Somerset Township, Washington County, near Eighty Four, entered the WPIAL tournament as the No. 1 seed after he beat Patel the previous week for his second consecutive section singles title.

After a first-round bye, Lynch notched a 10-3 victory against Patrick Dellinger of Sewickley Academy in the quarterfinals.

But that's where Lynch's path to a title hit a bump in the road. Vincentian sophomore Derek Chen took down Lynch, 6-7 (7-2), 6-4, 6-0, in a grueling, three-and-a-half-hour marathon. That meant Lynch had less than 24 hours to recover before he once again had to play in a match to decide whether he'd advance to the state tournament.

"[Losing in the semifinals] was tough mentally, and of course, playing three-and-a-half hours, you're going to be worn down," Lynch said. "Getting back mentally, I've had to do that a number of times, so that was easy. But getting my body ready for another match the next day, that was tougher. I soaked some and got a lot of sleep."

He summoned enough strength to put away Patel in straight sets and now will head to Hershey May 24-25 for the PIAA Class AA singles tournament.

Despite not winning the district tournament title, Lynch has high expectations for the state tournament.

Which means he's planning on increasing his practice workload in the upcoming weeks

"Absolutely, I'm going to [practice more]," he said. "It's easy to say I want to take states, but you have to focus and have to work hard.

"My ultimate goal is to win states, no matter what happened [at WPIALs]. I'm going to take this and learn from it and move on."

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