It wasn’t quite time for the torch to be passed last year. But since then, there’s been a changing of the guard in the Pioneer Athletic Conference boys tennis scene.
Methacton sophomore Dylan Wen was a standout during his freshman campaign in 2022, reaching the PAC singles final where he fell to repeat champion Cameron Moore. But with Moore graduated from Spring-Ford, Wen completed the circuit unblemished in 2023.
Now a sophomore, Wen ran through the regular season without dropping a match in league play, ultimately securing PAC singles, doubles and team titles. It was the first time Methacton has ever made a clean sweep in boys tennis, Wen’s pristine dominance garnering Mercury All-Area player of the year honors.
Wen is just the second player for Methacton to win the PAC singles title in boys tennis, the only other winner being Justin Baman in 2013.
“I was really happy about it, considering I felt I could’ve done better last year,” Wen said on returning to the PAC singles final and coming out on top this time around. “Especially because I don’t think I was really on the top of my game, especially during the finals last year.”
Wen defeated Owen J. Roberts junior Talan Nguyen, 6-3, 6-2 in the PAC singles final and won the PAC doubles title alongside junior Akash Suresh, 6-2, 6-1 over Perkiomen Valley’s Henry Ye and Landon Raupp.
Moore, who went his entire PAC tennis career (barring a canceled 2020 season) undefeated, described Wen last year as his ‘biggest opponent’ as the latter forced a three-setter against him last spring. The feeling was mutual for Wen.
If there’s anything Wen took from his 6-3, 6-1 loss to Moore in the PAC singles final last season, it was to not let the big moments overwhelm him, remain calm and in his element.
“I feel the experience overall from last year to this year helped me a lot, especially in those pressure situations with people watching,” Wen said. “I felt I didn’t adapt to that as well as I should’ve last year. This year, I tried to not let that get the best of me.”
It’s safe to say he did a good job of that. As the top-seed of the PAC singles tournament, Wen defeated Boyertown’s Luke Brisbois (10-0) following a first-round bye and Raupp (6-1, 6-0) in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, Wen survived a thriller against another skillful senior in Ye, the underclassman pulling out a 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1 win to punch his ticket to the final.
“I feel like, especially with the boys between their freshman year and senior year, there’s a big physical growth, and I see that already starting to happen a little bit with Dylan,” Methacton coach Jill Walker said. “He is a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger, that does come into impact with his strokes and everything. But overall, his mental game got a lot stronger too.”
Under Walker, Methacton’s entire team didn’t drop a single match, going 7-0 each outing throughout the PAC regular season in 2023. Non-league losses came at the hands of Radnor, Harriton and Upper Dublin for an 11-3 overall record.
Wen’s singles season ended with the PAC championship. The Warriors’ No. 1 did not compete at the District 1 singles tournament due to a prior commitment with the Pa. Music Educators Association All-State Mixed Choir. An accomplished pianist, Wen was selected to accompany the state-level musicians.
In doubles, Wen and Suresh benefitted from improved team chemistry after a fourth-place finish in PAC doubles the year prior. The pair won their 10-game pro set against Pottsgrove before a 6-0, 6-2 quarterfinal win over Perkiomen Valley duo Colin Ousey and Nolan Heyl.
Against Upper Merion’s Josiah Kotright-Lindsay — a two-time Mercury first team player as a sophomore — and Dominic Doan, Wen and Suresh prevailed, 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the final.
“I feel our dynamic, when we’d play together, it was somewhat shaky. But as we’ve grown to be closer friends, it’s been a lot better and I feel we can connect with each other more,” Wen said on his improved chemistry with Suresh. “The main thing about him, I’ve learned how his game style is, and how we can work together as a doubles team.”
Wen and Suresh were still getting familiar with one another last year, adjusting to each other and figuring things out on the fly. It was a learning process as the season rolled on. But this spring, they were well beyond the growing pains.
PAC doubles title in hand, the two defeated Avon Grove, 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round of the District 1 tournament before falling to Downingtown East’s Shrihan and Vishruth Madam.
They played in the District 1 doubles tournament last year as well, taking a win over Council Rock North before falling to Unionville in quarterfinals.
“There’s a big difference this year because I felt that whole year of experience, they were so much more familiar with each other. They knew each other, they knew each other’s game,” Walker said. “They now know what each of their strengths are. I feel they use that well. They know how to set each other up and play to their strengths.”
The High Performance Tennis Academy in Bala Cynwyd is a frequent haunt for Wen, putting in work during two-hour clinics each Sunday. In the offseason, he’s training to defend his and Methacton’s PAC titles after a slam dunk year within the conference.
Modeling his mechanics after Rafael Nadal, going after every ball and never letting up in his persistence, Wen also tries to channel the tennis IQ of Novak Djokovic, implementing mental toughness into his game.
“It’s easy to break down in tennis when you mess up, get hard on yourself and you can’t pull yourself up. He got stronger mentally, too, so that’s going to be a big thing,” Walker said. “He’s only a sophomore, so hopefully by senior year, he’s very steady on that level and be at his full growth physically.”
Right now, Wen has all the physical and mental components to make an even bigger splash entering his upperclassmen years. And for all the waves he’s creating, his torch is burning brightly.