ERIE - It's quickly becoming a season for the ages for the Warren Dragons boys tennis team.
Just two days after junior Shane Burns won the District 10 Class AA singles title, teammates Thomas Pellegrino and Matt Sandberg upset their top-seeded Fairview competition to claim the District 10 Class AA doubles title at the Pennbriar Racquet Club in Erie.
Pellegrino and Sandberg defeated top-seeded Fairview with R.J. Petrella - a former D-10 singles and doubles champ - and Andres Flores, a Mexican exchange student, by a 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 count.
Times Observer file photo by Allen?Seybert
District 10 champs
The team of senior Thomas Pellegrino, above, and junior Matt?Sandberg claimed the District 10 Class AA Doubles title Wednesday at the Pennbriar Raquet Club in Erie. Sandberg and Pellegrino advanced to the PIAA?Tournament scheduled for May 25-26 in Hershey with a thrilling 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory over Fairview’s R.J. Petrella and Andres Flores.
Both Pellegrino and Sandberg said after the match that the D-10 title was just the latest happening in what is becoming a season to long be remembered.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Sandberg. "With Thomas being a senior and in his last year with the program, it feels really good to be able to help him to a title. We showed a lot of heart during the match. We were down a set and trailing 4-1 in the second set, but we didn't give in. We wanted (the title) more than anything and we went out there and got it."
Despite the fact that Sandberg and Pellegrino spent the majority of the season playing singles, Sandberg said that switching over to doubles play was a relatively seemless transition.
No. 1 Fairview I (Richard Petrella-Andres Flores) bye; Oil City I (Greg Slye-Adam Strickland) d Corry I (Josh Schrecengost-Alex Sloan) 8-6; No. 8 Girard I (Dan Marx-Vaughn Peters) d Grove City II (Evan Lowers-Chris Adams) 8-5; Mercyhurst Prep II (Nick Kneidinger-Eric Campbell) d Hickory II (Mark Caracci-Jake Thomas) 8-4; No. 3 Greenville I (Chad Ferguson-Sean McErlane) d Sharon I (Justin Bucci-Ben Rauch) 8-0; Harbor Creek II (Teven Vargo-Celeste Bailey) d General McLane II (Linsey Sipple-Eric Sipple) 8-5; No. 6 Warren II (Nathan Sandberg-Grayson Foley) d Rocky Grove II (Tristan Weldon-Joe Martin) 8-1; Kennedy Catholic II (Jonathan David-Jake Friedrich) d Titusville II (Shannon Daugherty-John Cartney) 8-1; Grove City I (Matt Welker-Dylan Motta) d Greenville II (Jake Hunker-Aidan Overfield) 9-7; No. 5 Fairview II (Andrew Levin-Austin Fiedler) d Girard II (Kazuki Odachi-Austin Agnello) 8-0; Corry II (Dustin Mosher-Andrew Carpenter) d Sharon II (Doug McVehil-Dylan Cerroni) 8-6; No. 4 Kennedy Catholic (Mario Picciotto-Nico Teran) d Titusville I (Renata Drusko-Devin Pettit) 8-2; Hickory I (Corey Schurko-Ross Rosati) d Oil City II (Randyll Bearer-Louden Buchanan) 8-1; Harbor Creek I (Nick Hesch-Hunter Kelly) d No. 7 General McLane I (Zane Wright-Derek Sawer) 9-7; Mercyhurst Prep I (Ryan Campbell-Mitch McBride) d Rocky Grove I (Josh Wagner-Isaac Coon) 8-1; No. 2 Warren I (Matt Sandberg-Thomas Pellegrino) bye.
Fairview I d Oil City I 8-1; Mercyhurst Prep II d Girard I 8-6; Greenville I d Harbor Creek II 8-2; Warren II d Kennedy Catholic II 9-8; Fairview II d Grove City I 9-8; Kennedy Catholic I d Corry II 8-0; Hickory I d Harbor Creek I 8-2; Warren I d Mercyhurst Prep I 8-1.
Fairview I d Mercyhurst Prep II 8-1; Warren II d Greenville I 8-5; Fairview II d Kennedy Catholic I 9-7; Warren I d Hickory I 8-4.
Fairview I d Warren II 11-9; Warren I d Fairview II 10-3.
No. 2 Warren I (Matt Sandberg-Thomas Pellegrino) def. No. 1 Fairview I (Richard Petrella-Andres Flores), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
"I like being at the net," said Sandberg. "I like being right there to put it away and Thomas played extremely well today as well. There's nobody who can say we didn't earn this one."
Like Sandberg, Pellegrino was overjoyed calling the title win, "the greatest moment of my life."
"Matt and I don't even remember the match point," said Pellegrino. "I just remember running up to and hugging him. It was the best feeling I've ever had in my life. All the work we've put in for so long was worth it in that one moment."
Pellegrino was quick to point out, however, that there remains work to be done - and not just at the PIAA Doubles Tournament in two weeks.
"We've got the singles champion in Shane and now the doubles title with Matt and I," he said. "It would be so huge to add the District 10 team title to that. No Warren team has ever done that. We'll get our chance on Friday."
Warren coach Jeff Bartsch added, "the win for the Dragons went the distance in front of a large contingent of tennis fans and supporters today."
"We started the day getting both doubles teams seeded," added Warren assistant coach Norm Dziendziel. "Thomas and Matt were seeded second based upon their semifinals performances in the district singles tournament. Our other team of Nathan Sandberg and Grayson Foley received a sixth seed based upon their 18-1 record."
Sandberg and Pellegrino's road to the finals started with an 8-1 victory over Mercyhurst Prep's Ryan Campbell and Mitch McBride. In the quarterfinals, they defeated Hickory's Corey Schurko and Ross Rosati, 8-4 and in the semifinals they topped Fairview's number two team, 10-3.
"Our boys really turned up the heat on Fairview II with a 10-3 semifinal victory," added Bartsch.
Warren's sixth seeded team of Nathan Sandberg and Grayson Foley started their day with three straight wins. defeating Rocky Grove's Tristan Weldon and Joe Martin, 8-1, Kennedy Catholic's Jonathan David and Jake Freidric, 9-8 (7-2) and Greenville's third seeded team of Chad Ferguson and Sean McErlane, 8-3. The teams run finished in the semifinals with a close 11-9 loss to Fairview's Petrella and Flores.
"This was a great, great battle," said Bartsch. "Our guys put it out there and they gave Fairview everything they had. It was an incredible effort by Nate and Grayson."
The finals took nearly three hours and Petrella and Flores were able to take the first set by a 7-5 count. The second set didn't appear to be going Warren's way either with the Tigers duo up 4-1 at one points.
"Our Dragons decided to fight back and did so with style," said Bartsch.
Sandberg and Pellegrino went on a run to take a 5-4 lead in the set and at 6-6, a tiebreak was necessary. Sandberg and Pellegrino won the tiebreak, 7-4, to tie the match at one set all.
In the third set, the Warren duo ran out to a 4-1 lead, but Petrella and Flores soon cut the deficit to 5-4. With Thomas Pellegrino serving at 15-40, the Dragons marched back into the game, won two outstanding points, deuced it up and took control of the last two points to secure the championship.
Warren's last doubles championship came in 2006 when the team of Jeff Nuhfer and Gary Huber was victorious.
"Thomas and Matt deserved this win today," said Bartsch. "They have worked hard and have supported one another all season. Thomas and Matt are the fastest two players on the squad and they executed our doubles strategy beautifully. We are extremely proud of these champions."
The win will send Sandberg and Pellegrino - along with singles champion Burns - to the PIAA Championships scheduled for May 25-26 in Hershey.
The Dragons next compete in the D-10 Team Championships Friday at Pennbriar.
Here are the results from Wednesday's District 10 Class AA Doubles Championships at the Pennbriar racquet Club in Erie: