North Xtra: Mars' Raymundo second in WPIAL

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Josh Raymundo admits that he didn't play his best tennis Tuesday in his loss in the WPIAL Class AA boys tennis singles tournament to Sewickley Academy freshman Luke Ross.

But even with the loss, he's in a better position this season than in 2013.

After not being able to participate in last season's district tournament because of an appendectomy, Raymundo qualified for the PIAA Class AA singles tournament with his second-place WPIAL finish.

"I'm happy [about qualifying for states]," Raymundo said. "I'm glad I got a second chance to come back and make it happen but I wish there was a better outcome [Tuesday]."

Last season as a freshman, Raymundo won the Class AA Section 3 title against Vincentian's Derek Chen.

But a few days later, Raymundo underwent surgery for an appendectomy, knocking him out of the WPIAL singles tournament that Chen ended up winning.

Raymundo would return in time to qualify for the PIAA doubles tournament with Aaron Gruber and also help Mars make the state team tournament.

But he still wanted to make it to Hershey in singles.

"Last year was disappointing with his injury because I thought he really could do well and I'm glad to see that he's able to play this year," Mars coach Chris Knauff said.

"I thought he's played great throughout the year. I know he's disappointed with the loss, but he can't be disappointed with his effort."

Raymundo was very familiar with Ross, whom he played for the third time this season Tuesday and was scheduled to face again Wednesday in a dual meet between the Panthers and Planets.

Raymundo beat Ross in straight sets in their first meeting of the season in March in the teams' first dual meet. Then Ross took down Raymundo last week, 6-4, 6-7 (10-12), 6-2, in the section championship match.

The first set was back and forth, with Ross jumping out to 3-0 and 5-3 leads before Raymundo rallied to force a tiebreak. But Ross won all seven points in the tiebreak, helped by a few unforced errors from Raymundo.

Ross carried the momentum into the second set, cruising to a 6-0 win to record his first district championship.

"I definitely didn't get back to where I was [after losing the tiebreaker]," Raymundo said. "It was in my head and I could have fought back better."

Raymundo is currently dealing with a case of tennis elbow, but it wasn't going to cause him to miss WPIALs for a second consecutive season and he said it didn't affect his performance Tuesday.

It was the mental game that he said was more of an issue against Ross, and is something he needs to correct when he faces this Panthers freshman in the future.

"I just need to stay more calm and focused," Raymundo said. "I wasn't behaving too well on the court and I should have been better.

"I just need to convert better, stay calm and stay in the point more. Stop going for big shots."

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