The Conestoga High School boys’ tennis team defeated two-time defending state champion Lower Merion, 3-2, Saturday in the championship finals of the PIAA 3A state team tournament at Hershey. Conestoga came on top of two of three 3-set matches to dethrone the Aces, who had not lost a match in nearly three years.
Lower Merion took the early 2-0 lead when Brian Yi, the first singles player for LM, defeated Conestoga’s Chait Krishna 6-1, 6-3, followed by Nathan Dolgushev defeating Voyin Markovic at the third singles position with the score of 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
Conestoga stormed back to even the match at 2-2 with victories coming from Justin Xu, defeating LM’s Mark Lancaster 6-3, 7-5, followed by first doubles victory of Aaron Sun and Basil Lubiniecki of Conestoga defeating LM’s Stoyan Angelov and Hayden Masotti with the score of 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
With the score tied at 2-2, all eyes turned to the second doubles match, where LM’s David Liu and Charlie Bittenger faced Conestoga’s Vincent Yao and Raphie Lubiniecki in a tightly contested match. Down a match point at 5-4 in the third set, Lubiniecki hit a great serve return to save a match point, and fought back to win the match with the score of 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(4), ending the undefeated three year run for Lower Merion.
Conestoga boys tennis coach Brittany Aimone said, “The boys played the best tennis I’ve ever seen of them. Lower Merion is a tough competitor and we knew we’d have to play aggressively to win. The energy was incredibly high on both sides and it was an extremely memorable match that came down to a third set tie-breaker at second doubles. More impressive than the play, was the brotherhood of our players: banding together, standing in solidarity to support one another. It was truly admirable and inspiring, especially for me.”
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