Springfield >> Chester County stood tall on the final day of the PIAA District 1 3A doubles tournament at the Springfield Healthplex Saturday – of the five teams that clinched a berth in the upcoming PIAA 3A state doubles tournament, four were from Chester County, and the winning team was the Conestoga duo of senior Aaron Sun and junior Voyin Markovic.
The No. 4 seed in the bracket, Sun and Markovic defeated Unionville juniors Ryan Megill and Jack Barrickman (the seventh seed) in the championship final, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. Sun and Markovic recently won the Central League doubles championship, while Megill and Barrickman have held down the first doubles spot during the season for the powerful Longhorns.
“I think both of these teams played phenomenally this tournament,” said Conestoga boys’ tennis head coach Britt Aimone. “I think our serves were on point in the final. (Megill and Barrickman) are a strong team and their communication and positioning was just phenomenal, and it became how our guys were going to react to that, and they were able to execute that today.”
Sun, who is returning to the PIAA 3A state doubles tournament for the second year in a row, said, “In the second set (of the finals), our energy dropped, we were tired and a little sluggish but we got pumped up for the third set.”
Markovic said, “The key (in the third set) was our energy; we just needed to move our feet more.”
Asked what they thought was their best match of the tournament, the Conestoga duo picked the quarterfinals played Friday, in which they defeated the No. 5 seed, Downingtown East’s Shrihan Madam and Vishruth Madam, 6-3, 6-4.
Sun said, “We finished our volleys a little better in that match; this (final) was more about endurance.”
The top five teams at the District 1 3A doubles tournament are advancing to the PIAA 3A state doubles tourney May 26-27. Those five teams are Sun and Markovic, Megill and Barrickman, Lower Merion freshman Nathan Dolgushev and sophomore Charlie Bittinger (third place), Conestoga juniors Basil Lubiniecki and Francis Qin (fourth) and Downingtown East senior twins Abhiraj and Abhineet Srivastava (fifth).
The Srivastava twins, who advanced to the championship final of the PIAA 3A doubles state tournament last spring, and were the top seed in the District 1 3A bracket this week, lost to Lubiniecki and Qin in the quarterfinals Friday and moved to the playback bracket Saturday.
In the fifth-place match Saturday, the Srivastava twins defeated Penncrest’s Brady Huggett and Flynn Hollinger, 6-1, 6-2, to wrap up the final state tourney berth. Earlier in the tournament, the Penncrest pair had defeated both the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.
“Our strategy (today) was to keep calm, and play our game,” said Abhineet. “Positive energy and keep our body language up.”
Abhiraj said, “Our big goal this year is to go to States and win it all this time. We’ve been working pretty hard throughout this year, and we’re thankful we have another opportunity (to win the state doubles title).”
Earlier this season, the Srivastava twins captured the Ches-Mont National Division doubles championship for the third year in a row.
“I think we complement each other really well,” said Abhiraj. “Abhineet has one of the best serves I’ve seen, it’s one of the best in the state I think, and my game dictates off of his serve. His backhand is one of the best as well, to my forehand.”
In the upcoming PIAA 3A team tournament, the Downingtown East lineup will include Abhineet at first doubles and Abhiraj at second singles.
In the District 1 3A doubles third-place match Saturday, Dolgushev and Bittinger defeated Lubiniecki and Qin, 6-0, 6-4.
“We upped our game on our volleys today,” said Dolgushev. “I think our whole time was tidier.”
The Lower Merion pair said they thought their best match of the district doubles tournament was their second-round matchup Friday, in which they defeated No. 6 seed Krish and Revant Mendiratta of Great Valley in straight sets.
On Friday, Dolgushev, who plays third singles for an Aces squad that hasn’t lost a match in three years, said, “Teamwork is key in doubles, and if you can pump up your teammate, amazing things can happen. We complement each other; I like to smash shots (smiles) and get points quickly, and (Bittinger) likes to set me up so I can do that, he’s very consistent and that helps me a lot. Charlie and I have been playing together since we were 8 or 9 years old; it’s been a real inspiration for us to play doubles together and to be successful.”
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