Spring-Ford’s Pascual, Cruickshank team up for PAC-10 Doubles Tournament title

GRATERFORD — For Patrick Pascual, it was old hat.

For TJ Cruickshank, it was all brand new.

But the two Spring-Ford boys tennis standouts did what they had to do in combining to win the Pioneer Athletic Conference Doubles championship Friday afternoon at Perkiomen Valley High School’s courts.

Pascual and Cruickshank, the third seeds in the two-day tournament, defeated Perkiomen Valley’s top-seeded tandem of Luke Pain and Yash Singh 6-3, 6-3 in the finals.

Pascual, a junior, repeated as doubles champion after winning last year with Ryan Schweitzer, who suffered a broken arm midway through this season. Cruickshank, a sophomore, replaced Schweitzer in the lineup at both the No. 2 singles position and now as Pascual’s new partner during the doubles competition.

Cruickshank, a hard-hitting left-hander, has made the transition from No. 3 singles to No. 2 noticeably well. And this doubles tournament was all new to him, too, but he showed no signs of it bothering him at all.

Pain, a junior, and Singh, a senior, defeated Spring-Ford’s second team of senior Michael McCabe and junior Nick Griswold 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals. Pascual and Cruickshank handled Methacton’s first team of senior Ryan Hamilton and sophomore Subhanik Purkayastha 6-0, 6-2 in their semifinal to reach the championship match.

“It is unfortunate that Ryan is out, but TJ has filled in well,’ said Pascual, who made it a clean sweep of the PAC-10 singles and doubles titles two straight years. “I knew we would still be able to make a good run in the tournament. ”

Cruickshank is a lefty like Schweitzer so that part of the tandem did not change. The whole transition proceeded quite smoothly.

“He (Cruickshank) has some doubles skills that are better than me,’ said Pascual. “We’re just very happy to get this title.’

Both players have been playing tennis since they were 8 years old. And the two veteran underclassmen should have a lot of quality tennis ahead at both Spring-Ford and around the PAC-10 in future years.

“It is a different environment in second singles,’ said Cruickshank. “It is a lot different than third singles. There is more pace.’

In the opening set, Pain served first, but Spring-Ford still took a 3-0 lead. The Vikes used a service break with strong play from Singh at the net to make it 3-1. Then Pain held serve with Singh converting an overhead slam to cut the gap to 3-2.

The Rams retook the momentum in game 6 with Pascaul serving, winning the game at 40-0 on a Cruickshank slam, to go ahead 4-2. The ensuing game went to deuce twice with Pain coming through to keep PV close at 4-3. With Cruickshank serving in game 8, the Rams fell behind twice, but they rallied on a couple of service aces to force deuce twice. Cruickshank served another ace, and then Pascual buried a shot for the game-winner to make it 5-3. The last game went to deuce three times with Spring-Ford taking the game on a long hit.

Spring-Ford jumped out to another 3-0 lead in the second set. But Pain converted a key crosscourt shot that helped PV make it 3-1. In game 5, S-F took a 40-30 lead on Cruickshank’s slam at the net and claimed the game to hold Pascual’s serve on a PV hit into the net to make it 4-1.

The Rams wound up winning the 65-minute match with Pascual serving and Cruickshank scoring the game-winner on a slam down the baseline at 40-0.

“We tried to keep it to TJ as much as possible,’ said Singh. “I don’t think either of them likes high balls. It worked, but we missed our consistency to close it out. Luke makes some big shots and big serves, and I finish at the net.’

Pain and Singh played doubles together two years ago, but they just been reunited as a team this spring.

“We started practicing this week,’ said Pain. “My freshman year we played together.’

Notes — Third place went to Methacton’s No. 1 team of Hamilton/Subhanik Purkayastha with a 6-1, 6-4 win over S-F’s McCabe/Griswold. … The Warriors also claimed the fifth-place match with their second duo of Nick Simeone and Alan Shen topping Phoenixville’s Luke Lombardi/Austin Starczewski 6-3, 6-4 to cap that playoff.

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