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Methacton locks up fourth straight PAC team title

BUCKTOWN >> The seniors on the Methacton boys tennis team entered Tuesday’s match with Owen J. Roberts having never lost a Pioneer Athletic Conference match in their high school careers.

They weren’t about to start now.

The Warriors’ depth carried them yet again against the Wildcats, a 6-1 victory locking up a fourth consecutive PAC team championship.

“It’s awesome. I think we were pretty confident coming into the season that we had a lot of depth on our team, starting from the top to the bottom and all the way through,” No. 1 singles player Subhanik Purkayastha said. “That’s what has enabled us to stand out in the league.”

Methacton’s Subhanik Purkayastha hits an overhead Wednesday against Owen J. Roberts’ Holden Smith. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“It’s crazy. No other team has the depth that we have,” No. 2 singles player Alan Shen said. “Many of our first and second JVs could be on varsity at a lot of other schools.”

As they’ve done so many times before, Methacton (11-0) swept all four doubles courts – dropping only six games in the process – while getting singles victories from Shen at No. 2 and Adam Zhang at No. 3.

The day’s marquee matchup at No. 1 singles between PAC singles tournament Holden Smith, a Owen J. Roberts junior, and Warriors’ No. 1 Purkayastha was the lone court that went OJR’s way with Smith scoring a 6-1, 6-0 win.

Smith is in his first year back at OJR after attending the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., a full-time junior tennis training center his first two years of high school. Smith showed his quality throughout with his dominant, well-placed serve and groundstroke variety that kept Purkayastha off balance throughout.

Methacton’s Subhanik Purkayastha hits a forehand against Owen J. Roberts’ Holden Smith at No. 1 singles Wednesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“A lot of the game right now is players just hitting really hard. The thing I really focus on a lot is making my game more versatile and using a lot of different shots to disrupt my opponents. I’ve been doing that a lot this season,” Smith said. I’m able to get in my opponent’s head by mixing up shots, giving them stuff they haven’t seen before.”

The scoreline was less flattering than Purkayastha deserved considering the Warriors’ top player hadn’t lost a PAC match prior to Tuesday.

“I thought I gave a good fight and gave a good shot, but he was getting every ball back,” he said. “I came in wanting to be consistent, keep it deep and to try to keep fighting.”

Smith did not play in the District 1 Singles Championships last week due to his participation with the Owen J. Roberts’ DECA program at a competition in Anaheim, Calif., but will partner with OJR No. 2 Brandon Miller in this weekend’s PAC Doubles Tournament.

Owen J. Roberts’ No. 2 singles player Brandon Miller. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Purkayastha and Shen will partner in the league tournament that starts Friday as well.

Shen has been on a roll of late and backed up his win over Upper Dublin’s Andrew Duan, who advanced to the second round of districts, on Tuesday by downing Miller, 6-1, 6-0.

“I made sure that I limited my mistakes,” Shen said. “That was a problem for me at the beginning of the year, I tended to overhit the ball and that’s definitely the reason I lost to Malchu (Pascual of Spring-Ford) and Graham (Light of Phoenixville). I think I learned from that and I used that to win this match.

“(Against Duan) I won just by being consistent and not trying to overplay. I ended up frustrating him. I felt today shouldn’t be any different and I ended up being right.”

The doubles teams of Krisha Suraesh and Harsha Santhanam, Max Markowitz and Matt Zhang, Krishna Pillutla/Russell Hall, and Saket Gokhale and Aaron Zhang ensured Tuesday’s win for the Warriors.

“I think a lot of people that come here are dedicated to being good players and come here to be the best,” Matt Zhang said. “Doubles is all about chemistry. Having a good relationship with your partner really helps a lot.”

Methacton has more team business to attend to when they visit No. 5 seed Council Rock North in the first round of the District 1-AAA Team Championships Thursday. The Warriors are the No. 12 seed.

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