East Xtra: Graduation losses present challenge for Penn-Trafford

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Penn-Trafford's boys tennis team has been the class of Class AAA Section 1 recently, having won the past three section championships.

But if the Warriors want to win the title for a fourth consecutive season, they'll have to overcome massive personnel losses after losing 13 seniors from last season's squad that went 14-0 in section play.

"We're really working hard and we're going to do our best," Penn-Trafford coach Linda Michaux said.

Penn-Trafford posted 11-1 section marks in both 2011 and '12, taking the title by one match each year. Then last year, the team ran through the league with a perfect mark before falling to Pine-Richland, 4-1, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA team tournament.

It was the sixth season in a row that Penn-Trafford lost in the first round of the district playoffs.

The Warriors will have to replace four starters from last season's team, but one player the Warriors didn't lose is senior Cullen Price, who is playing No. 1 singles for the Warriors for the fourth consecutive season.

Price is a three-time section singles runner-up, having lost in the championship match the past two seasons to Greater Latrobe junior Chad Kissell.

"Cullen is an excellent player," Michaux said. "He's definitely college tennis material. With him at the top of our lineup, it gives us a win in most cases. Having him on our team is a tremendous asset."

The Warriors must replace their No. 2 and No. 3 singles players from last season, Dalton Yezovich and Jordan Pastoria, both of whom graduated.

So playing No. 2 singles is junior Tim Seaman, who started at second doubles last season. Seaman entered this week undefeated in four matches.

"He's very consistent and has matured as a player," Michaux said. "He doesn't give up and truly loves the sport."

Sophomore Justin Anderson, a first-year starter, is currently playing No. 3 singles for the Warriors.

At doubles, the Warriors lost one of their top players in Alec Giugliano, who paired with Price to finish second in the section doubles tournament last spring.

But junior Anthony Iovino, who played with Giugliano at No. 1 doubles in team competitions last season, returns and is paired with senior Evan Astley. At No. 2 doubles, the Warriors have a pair of sophomores, Noah Babick and Dave Reger.

The Warriors entered the week with a 3-1 record, with wins against Norwin, Connellsville and Kiski Area and a 3-2 loss to Hempfield Area.

Michaux said she'll know more about her team's chances at winning another section title at the end of this week after it has played Latrobe Wednesday and Franklin Regional on Friday.

The Wildcats and Panthers finished second and third, respectively, in the section standings last season.

"The key for us is how we play against Franklin and Latrobe," Michaux said. "We know they have a lot of talent and they should be really good matches. I look forward to playing them both."

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