Many challenges for the Pine-Richland men’s tennis team

By:


Sunday April 10, 2022 | 8:01


A quick summary of the Pine-Richland men’s tennis team’s season so far is that it’s been a challenge.

Rams coach Dang Siriprasert struggled with inclement weather that led to four game postponements and canceled practices. There is also a field trip with a school group that will take four college players for a week.

Through it all, Siriprasert kept their spirits up and the team fought on.

“Everything we do is outside. We never went inside for a game,” Siripraset said. “The weather was difficult. It’s snowing. It is raining. We struggled with that. »

Pine-Richland was 2-2 in its first four games.

There were bright spots in the cloudy skies the Rams played under almost every day, like senior Braiden Smalley becoming the team’s number one singles player.

When Smalley was a freshman, he came to the courts from scratch and built his game enough to be considered one of the best players on the team.

“When Braiden came to the team in ninth grade, he had no tennis experience,” Siriprasert said. “He didn’t know anything about tennis, but he got really good in his four years. He just got into the team and he was successful.

Smalley and Matteo Rovera competed in the section’s singles tournament on April 6 in North Allegheny. Smalley won his first-round match against Seneca Valley’s Michael DeVyer before falling in the quarterfinals.

Rovera is the No. 3 player in singles in the second year. He went from not making varsity games as a rookie to earning a singles berth a year later.

“It’s not surprising at all, because he works so hard,” Siriprasert said. “Last year Matteo ranked No.9 in the team, but now he’s down to three.”

Siriprasert said the majority of the team’s players consider tennis their second sport, but they work hard when they come to the court for practices and matches.

The Rams will have to dig deep in the third week of April due to the school group’s trip to Chicago. They will have to play a few important games without four key college players.

Last year, the Rams qualified for the playoffs and won a first-round game against Penn-Trafford before losing to Upper St. Clair in the quarterfinals.

They will need a top-four spot in Section 2-3A to qualify again.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” Siriprasert said. “We will try to do that, but right now we are trying to survive every day.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

Tags: Pine-Richland