Keith Barnes, May 18, 2018, Tri-State Sports & News Service
Fox Chapel has gotten to know the Great Valley boys tennis team pretty well over the past two years.
To their detriment, though, it has been a one-sided relationship with the Foxes getting the short end of the stick.
For the second consecutive year Great Valley, the third-place team out of District 1, eliminated WPIAL champion Fox Chapel in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 3A team tournament at Hershey Racquet Club in Hershey, Pa. This time the Patriots pulled out a 3-2 victory against the Foxes to move into the semifinals for the second consecutive season.
“This was about as close a match as you can get and it was just a couple games that would have been a difference-maker that was the whole thing,” Fox Chapel coach Alex Slezak said. “I told the kids that it hurts to lose and we’re one of the best teams, but it’s tough to say that we are not the best team today.”
Fox Chapel lost to Great Valley, 3-1, in the semifinals a year ago. Because the PIAA uses predetermined brackets for its tennis tournament, the WPIAL champion has been predestined to take on the District 1 third-place team since the biennial realignment went into effect before the 2016-17 school year.
Indiana also has qualified for the PIAA tournament each of the past three years, but the Little Indians have done it as the WPIAL Class 2A runner-up to Sewickley Academy. For their reward, they’ve had to take on district champion in the quarterfinals every year and this time it went about as well as the previous two.
For the second consecutive year, that champion was the first-place team out of District 3 and, although the foe changed from Lancaster Country Day to Wyomissing, the result was similar as the Little Indians dropped a 4-1 decision and were eliminated.
“We have to get a better draw because, if you look at who we played [District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle], we’re playing progressively better teams,” Indiana coach Phil Palko said. “I think the team we played has a shot at getting to the final and you can see the level of talent that goes into our side of the draw.”
Only one WPIAL team is remaining in either classification as two-time defending Class 2A champion Sewickley Academy rolled to a 3-0 victory against Central Columbia. The Panthers will take on Lancaster Country Day Saturday in the semifinals.