East Xtra: Central Catholic tandem reunited on court

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As freshmen, Mike Santa Lucia and Adam Blasinsky set the WPIAL on notice by qualifying for the PIAA Class AAA doubles tournament.

After two years apart, the two are back together and form arguably the best 1-2 punch atop any lineup in the area.

"It's big to have those two there at the top," Central Catholic coach Rick Capretta said. "We know going into most matches that we only need to squeak out a point somewhere else to win."

Blasinsky is the defending WPIAL Class AAA singles champion and PIAA runner-up. He is ranked as the seventh-best recruit in the state in the Class of 2014 by tennisrecruiting.net, and the top player from the WPIAL.

Santa Lucia is ranked ninth on the same site, and returns to the Vikings after spending close to two years at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., a developmental tennis training school.

"I felt like I needed to step my game up and take it to the next level of success," Santa Lucia said.

Santa Lucia first entered the program during his sophomore year of high school. He said that his days would consist of about five hours of tennis and two hours of fitness training. The rest of the time would be taken up by cyber school.

Santa Lucia said he saw his game get much better, but an accident cut his time at the school short.

During his junior year, Santa Lucia was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle and suffered a serious concussion. He wasn't able to do much of anything for many months.

"All my motor skills were really messed up," Santa Lucia said. "It was really hard.

"At this point, I would say I'm close to 100 percent. I still feel symptoms every once in a while, as I'll get light-headed, but it's gotten a lot better."

During the recovery, he and his family decided it would be best to come back home and finish out his high school days where it started, at Central Catholic.

Although the competition may not be the same as it was in College Park, he still gets to hit around with one of the best in the state every day in practice in Blasinsky.

"We both hate losing to each other," said Santa Lucia, who listed Division I schools Saint Joseph's and Denver among his top choices for colleges next season.

The two got to play in a match that counts Tuesday, when they squared off in the final of the Class AAA Section 3 singles tournament.

Santa Lucia defeated Blasinsky, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, but both will advance to the WPIAL singles tournament.

Meanwhile, the team is off to a good start, too. The Vikings are undefeated this season, including a big section win against Fox Chapel. The Vikings are expecting big contributions this year and in the future from freshman Natoli Farber, who is playing No. 3 singles. At doubles, the Vikings have paired Tom Watson and Jorge Reyes-Arbujas at the No. 1 spot and Anthony Clark and Logan Blackwood at No. 2.

Central Catholic's toughest test will come today, when it takes on two-time defending WPIAL Class AAA team champion Shady Side Academy for the first of two meetings that will likely decide that Class AAA Section 3 champion.

Capretta knows his team has a chance with its firepower at the top.

"With [Adam and Mike], we'll be in every match," Capretta said. "Shady Side Acadamy and Fox Chapel both have good doubles teams, so the question is where are we going to get our third win.

"Our expectations are to try to steal the section."

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