North Xtra: Sewickley tennis players state their case

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When the Class AA Section 3 singles bracket was posted this high school tennis season, what stuck out the most was a name that wasn't listed.

Sewickley Academy's Colin Kaye won the 2012 WPIAL Class AA singles championship as a junior, but the Panthers' section singles participants this season were Patrick Dellinger and Logan Yee.

It turns out that Dellinger, who won the WPIAL doubles title with Will Kleeman last season, told Kaye that he wished to play in the singles tournament. Kaye was fine playing doubles with Kleeman, especially since Kaye and Kleeman will be a favorite at the PIAA tournament later this month.

The Panthers' duo dominated the WPIAL Class AA doubles tournament April 29-30, culminating in a 6-3, 6-2 victory against Mars Area freshmen Josh Raymundo and Aaron Gruber in the championship match.

"My friend, Pat, came to me and said he wanted to play singles and I was willing to let him," said Kaye, a Sewickley resident. "Originally I was going to play singles, but because he wanted to play, I thought it'd be a good idea to play with Will, because he wanted to defend his [doubles] title. It wasn't really a hard decision. I'm fine either way."

It was the third consecutive WPIAL doubles title for Kleeman, all with different partners.

In addition to winning with Dellinger and Kaye, Kleeman won in 2011 with Daniel Mart-chek.

"The funnest part is the last three years I've played with my three best friends," Kleeman said. "So the fact they all play tennis and I could play with them is pretty surreal. It's more fun just playing with them than the results."

When Kleeman, a Leet Township resident, went to the PIAA Class AA doubles tournament for the first time in 2011, he and Martchek lost in the first round.

But last year, Kleeman and Dellinger advanced all the way to the PIAA semifinals before losing to Sam Borowsky and Max Blumenthal of Harriton, who went on to win their second consecutive state title. Borowsky and Blumenthal have graduated.

"I really think we can win the whole state tournament in all seriousness," Kleeman said. "Two years ago, we lost in the first round and we were just happy to make it. Last year, we tried to make it to Saturday [when the semifinals and finals are played], and we got third."

Appearing in his first individual state tournament, Kaye lost in the first round of the PIAA Class AA singles tournament last season. But Kaye, as well as Kleeman, have played in the PIAA team tournament each of the past three seasons.

It was likely both would get another chance to play in the state team tournament, as the Panthers are the prohibitive favorites to win their 10th district team title in a row this week.

Despite all of its district success, however, Sewickley has only won one state title, which came in 2006.

It's that elusive team state title, not the doubles championship, that is at the top of Kaye's priority list.

"We're mainly focused on the team [title]," Kaye said. "Doubles comes second. I would give up playing doubles in a heartbeat to win the state title as a team."

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