South Xtra: Despite youthful lineup, Peters continues to win on tennis court

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Peters Township's youngest team in a long time may also be its deepest.

The Indians, who have five freshmen on their varsity roster, have a 9-2 overall record, including a perfect 9-0 mark in Class AAA Section 5.

"We're very young, but we're also very deep," Peters Township coach Brandt Bowman said. "I think this is one of my better teams over the past seven or eight seasons."

Peters Township has won the section title each of the past two seasons and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals in five of the past six seasons, but the Indians haven't made it to the semifinals since 2007.

Bowman will rely on youth to try and get him past that hurdle this season, but he'll be able to count on a senior at the top of his lineup.

Mitch Kreider won the Class AAA Section 5 singles tournament in 2012 and 2013, but did not play in this season's tournament because he had a Future Business Leaders of America competition that coincided with the WPIAL singles tournament the following week. He has brought strong play and leadership to the Indians this season.

"Mitch is a good leader," Bowman said. "I think he has had to let a lot of the younger guys know what the season is about and once we get into the playoffs, he'll tell them about that, too.

"I mean, we went to the section tournament last week and my No. 3 singles player, who is a freshman, didn't even know what it was about."

Bowman was referring to Ryan Farrell, who placed third in the Section 5 tournament to qualify for WPIALs. He beat teammate Brendan Dollard, who plays No. 2 singles, in the consolation final. Dollard took second in the 2013 section singles tournament as a freshman.

The Indians have two more freshmen playing No. 1 doubles, Miguel Ascencio and Nathan Wang. The pair hasn't lost a section match yet, and split their two matches in non-section play, winning against North Allegheny and losing to Mt. Lebanon.

At No. 2 doubles, Bowman has been rotating a number of players in and out of the lineup to try and find the right pairing. Senior Jordan Dollard, Brendan's brother, and junior Zenas Zhuang started the season at the position, but junior Andrew Chapman, sophomores Sam Marx and Sebastian Yocca and freshmen Joe Grzyb and Anthony Castelone have all seen court time.

Bowman said finding the right pairing is crucial because doubles is vital in high school tennis.

"We really stress doubles," Bowman said. "It has such an impact. If you can get points from your four through seven players, it really helps in team play."

With the best depth he's had in years and a young team growing by the minute, Bowman is hoping his team is one to be reckoned with in May.

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