Downingtown – Led by defending PIAA Class AAA state champion Michael Dickson, Downingtown East held off a rapidly-improving Downingtown West squad for a 5-2 win Wednesday afternoon that wrapped up the Ches-Mont National Division for the Cougars.
Downingtown East, which has won a least a share of the Ches-Mont National title in most of the past 10 years, finished with an 11-2 league mark.
Two years ago, the Cougars finished in a three-way tie for the Ches-Mont National title. Last year, Downingtown East finished second, one game behind West Chester Henderson. This year, East head coach Chris Waychunas and the Cougars can enjoy the view from the top.
“The guys on this team are all good people – Michael [Dickson] sets the one – and it’s [rewarding] to see this [championship] happen to them,” said Waychunas. “The key to this season was that all of our guys had the confidence to play their own games. I tell the players to be themselves, not to try to play like the [local club] pro or like anyone else. … And, we’ve had great parental support this season, too.”
At first singles, Dickson, who is unbeaten this season, defeated West sophomore Brett Graybill, 6-0, 6-1. Last week, Dickson defeated Graybill, 6-0, 6-0, in the Ches-Mont National Division singles championship finals. Both Dickson and Graybill are headed to the PIAA Class AAA District One tournament, with Dickson as the top seed.
At second singles Wednesday, West senior Dylan McKay improved his record to 10-5 with a 6-4, 6-1 win against Listmeier (12-5). The East senior had finished fourth at the Ches-Mont National singles tournament.
McKay, who will be playing tennis for Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Fla. this fall, said, “I tried to be consistent, keep the ball in play, and hit to [Listmeier’s] backhand. My serve was working well, too.”
The third singles match pitted two players with identical 10-2 records, East freshman Tristan McBride and West sophomore Josh Biskowitz. McBride came out the winner, 6-3, 6-1.
“I really came to the net a lot today, and won a lot of net points,” said McBride. “I was trying to be aggressive.”
East also won first doubles, as the senior duo of Luc DeCecco (11-3) and Jay Pendyala (12-2) defeated senior Luke Walter and junior Andrew Pollack, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
DeCecco, who will be playing tennis for West Chester University in the fall, said, “Jay and I just tried to be consistent. We felt if we could keep the ball on the court consistently that we could outlast [the West duo].”
When the first doubles match was complete, East held a 3-1 lead with the second, third and fourth doubles matches still in progress. The Cougars only needed one more win to clinch the match (and the Ches-Mont National title), and they got it from the fourth doubles team of junior Aditya Kommoju and sophomore Yuto Hamanaka, who defeated senior Victor Ficarra and freshman Tim Basta, 6-4, 6-4.
“The key to our win was Yuto’s serves,” said Kommoju.
Hamanaka added, “It helped that Aditya was poaching for me on my serves.”
Downingtown West’s loss dropped its league record to 9-3 with one Ches-Mont match left (against Unionville). The Whippets have two regular-season matches left (they will play Methacton Monday) and still have hopes of entering the District One team tournament as a wild card.
“Downingtown West has a lot of good players, and they’re well-coached,” said Waychunas.
The Whippets have improved from 6-7 (2014) to 7-6 (2015) to 9-4 last year. With the Whippets in second place, the two Downingtown teams have clinched the top two spots in the Ches-Mont National boys’ tennis loop for the first time in league history.
“Our guys fought hard today,” said West head coach Justin DePietropaolo (who used to be an assistant coach for Waykunas at East). “We were missing one varsity player today, and [freshman] Tim Basta stepped up at fourth doubles and almost pulled out a win. We only lose five seniors to graduation [in June]. We should be the team to beat next year.”
Downingtown East 5, Downingtown West 2
First singles: Michael Dickson (DE) def. Brett Graybill, 6-0, 6-1; Second singles: Dylan McKay (DW) def. Jason Listmeier, 6-4, 6-1; Third singles: Tristan McBride (DE) def. Josh Biskowitz, 6-3, 6-1; First doubles: Luc DeCecco and Jay Pendyala (DE) def. Jake Walter and Andrew Pollack, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5); Second doubles: Jon Reid and Chase Hanak (DW) def. Eric Marsilio and Justin Song, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-0; Third doubles: Kevin Ly and Jimmy McDevitt (DE) def. Ryan Biskowitz and Griffin Hillsinger, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4; Fourth doubles: Aditya Kommoju and Yuto Hamanaka (DE) def. Victor Ficarra and Tim Basta, 6-4, 6-4.