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Lower Merion’s Chen, Robinson clinch state singles tourney berth

Springfield – The PIAA Class AAA District One boys’ tennis tournament entered its second day of play Saturday with state tournament berths on the line.

Following quarterfinal action, the Lower Merion duo of senior Matt Chen and freshman Matt Robinson emerged victorious to clinch their berth in the upcoming PIAA Class AAA state individual singles tournament.

Defending state champion Michael Dickson from Downingtown East also clinched a berth in the PIAA Class AAA state singles tournament, which will be held May 26-27 at the Hershey Racquet Club.

Chen, who be heading to Case Western Reserve and entered the tournament as the number three seed topped West Chester Rustin’s Luke Shevlin, the number six seed 6-1, 6-1.

Chen said, “It means a lot to get back to the state tournament. It’s a true blessing and a good way to end my high school career on the individual level. It’s nice to have one more chance.”

In another quarterfinal match, Robinson, the No. 2 seed, beat Unionville sophomore Tristan Bradley, the No. 7 seed, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted almost three hours to clinch his berth. In the final quarterfinal match, Council Rock North’s Dan Kliebham completed his magical run defeating Great Valley freshman Sameer Gangoli, the No. 5 seed, 6-4, 6-4.

“Making the state tournament for singles was a goal of mine,” said Robinson. “It’s very special because not to many freshman have this opportunity.”

Robinson then beat Chen in the district semifinals, 6-4 7-6 (9-7), to advance to the district singles finals against Dickson. The district singles finals will be played May 13.

The Butler University-bound Dickson, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, punched his ticket to the state tournament with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Radnor High School freshman Max Safanov, the eighth seed.

“It’s a huge relief to get back to the state tournament,” said Dickson. “Every opponent is different and you cannot take anyone lightly. I try to make every match fun but take care of business at the same time. Everyone is a solid player and you just have to adapt your game.”

With five players advancing to the PIAA Class AAA state singles tournament this year, playback matches were played following the quarterfinals. In one playback match, Gangoli defeated Safanov to advance to determine the fifth and final seed.





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