West Xtra: Beaver tennis team reloads on the run

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The Beaver Area boys tennis team has advanced to the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals each of the past four seasons.

But with six of its top nine players, including all of its top five, having graduated after last season, the Bobcats were expected to take a step back this season.

Yet, as the regular season proceeds, Beaver is once again cruising along with just one loss on its resume entering this week.

"I've been pleasantly surprised," Beaver coach Riley Baker said. "You lose the quality of players we had last year and you think you may not be as successful. But we're doing quite well."

Beaver lost the Class AA Section 1 singles champion, Connor Shallcross, as well as No. 2 player and WPIAL doubles qualifier, Jimmy Covatto.

Two sophomores who played second doubles together as freshman last season -- Jon Tetrick and Devin Dikec -- have stepped into the top singles roles.

Tetrick finished fourth in the section singles tournament at the start of April.

"He's doing well," Baker said. "He got a lot of experience from playing last season. It's a big step from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 singles, but he's handled it well."

Junior Garrett Haffner is playing No. 3 singles.

Turner Dalmaso, the only Beaver player other than Tetrick or Didek with varsity experience entering this season, plays No. 1 doubles with senior Richie Covatto, Jimmy's brother. Covatto is one of five starters on the team who had a sibling play for Baker previously.

"It just shows you how much it runs in families," Baker said.

Troy Boyle, who plays No. 2 doubles, had a sister who played for Baker on the girls tennis teams years ago. He pairs with first-year tennis player, senior A.J. Cogley. Cogley had played baseball prior to this season.

The top seven players have helped Beaver get to second place in Class AA Section 2, behind only Blackhawk, which handed the Bobcats their only loss.

Baker admits his team may not be as good top to bottom as last season's, which also finished second to Blackhawk in the section standings. But he's happy with how well his team has played.

"I don't think we have as much talent as last year, but guys are really stepping up and maturing into their positions," Baker said.

"We had four guys who hadn't really played that much at the varsity level. This is their first year starting. But they were good players; they just didn't have the opportunity to being in the top seven because of the talent of the players in front of them.

"Now they are getting a chance and playing well."

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