Central Catholic senior Adam Blasinsky closed his WPIAL singles career with another title Tuesday, while Sewickley Academy freshman Luke Ross started his with the first of possibly many championships.
Blasinsky won his second consecutive WPIAL Class AAA boys tennis singles championship by beating Latrobe junior Chad Kissell, 6-2, 7-5. Ross defeated Mars sophomore Josh Raymundo, 7-6 (7-0), 6-0, in the Class AA final in windy conditions at Bethel Park.
“It was very windy and we both had to deal with it, but I just came through in big moments,” Blasinsky said.
Blasinsky had a tougher road through sections and districts this season than in 2013, when he never lost more than three games in a set in his six matches en route to becoming the first WPIAL boys singles champion in Central Catholic history.
Last week, Blasinsky lost in the final of the Class AAA Section 3 tournament to his teammate, Mike Santa Lucia, in three sets. Santa Lucia took third Tuesday, but only the top two players from Class AAA advance to the state tournament.
Because of the section final loss, Blasinsky entered the WPIAL tournament as the No. 2 seed, but lost only nine games in his first three matches to advance to the final, where he faced the fourth-seeded Kissell.
Kissell led in both sets, including 5-4 in the second, but Blasinsky closed each set strong.
“It seems that whenever I’m leading in a set, he plays better,” Kissell said. “He’s a great player and there is no shame in losing to him in the finals.”
Blasinsky and Kissell move on to the PIAA singles tournament May 22-23 in Hershey. Blasinsky finished second in the PIAA tournament last season; Kissell will make his first PIAA tournament appearance. He is the third in his family to qualify in singles, joining his sisters Joelle and Michaela, who are former WPIAL champs.
Like Kissell, Ross and Raymundo are first-time PIAA singles qualifiers.
The two met for the third time this season, with Raymundo winning the first matchup in straight sets in a team dual and Ross winning in three sets last week in the Class AA Section 3 final.
Ross never trailed Tuesday to become the second Panther to win the WPIAL title in the past three seasons, joining Colin Kaye.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match because Josh is a great player,” Ross said. “I knew I had to be consistent and I knew Josh’s serve is one of the best and I had to be able to return it.”
Ross broke Raymundo on his first service game and jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Raymundo battled back to force a tiebreaker.
Joining Ross and Raymundo as PIAA qualifiers in Class AA was Carlynton freshman Luke Phillips, who defeated Bentworth’s Matt Lynch, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), in the consolation.