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Duos from McDowell and Cathedral Prep win the District 10 finals
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Duos from McDowell and Cathedral Prep win the District 10 finals

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Gridley Wright and Noah Hardesty were the singles starters for most of McDowell’s boys tennis season.

The sophomores realized their unfinished business, however, when coach Andy Heinlein paired them for the District 10 Class 3A doubles tournament on Wednesday.

“We came up short last year when we lost in the semifinals,” Wright said. “When we found out we were going to play together, we knew we wanted to win (the title) this time.”

“We were able to do exactly that.”

Wright and Hardesty lived up to their status as the tournament’s top seeds. They won pro sets of eight and 10 games prior to their final at Westwood Racquet Club.

It was then and there they defeated fellow Trojans Christian Neubert and Dan Idzik 6-1, 6-2.

“This reaffirms the momentum we have,” Wright said.

Wednesday’s Class 2A finalists also knew each other long before the first serve was hit.

That preparatory match for the cathedral favored Gavin Ferretti and James Casella. They also had the upper hand as the top seeds for that series with a 6-1, 6-4 sweep of teammates Colin Troutman and Cameron Grieshaber.

Casella compartmentalizes

Ferretti qualified for PIAA tournament action at the Hershey Racquet Club a year after traveling there as the 2A district singles champion. Prep junior Jonah Ng denied the sophomore southpaw a chance to repeat in Monday’s final.

Ng was also the 2022 small school winner.

Although Ferretti’s final state appearance will be in doubles, last spring’s experience in singles will remain beneficial through Memorial Day weekend.

“There are a lot of high-level players there and there is a lot of pressure,” he said. “We know we will have to play our best game. Let’s wait and see what happens.”

Prep coach Pat Grab paired Casella with Ferretti, even though Casella mainly served and volleyed with Grieshaber during the regular season.

Casella, at least for the hour-plus match time of the final, found it easy to sever their emotional ties.

“You know they’re your teammates,” he said, “but you have to treat them as completely different people. You should.”

“At the end (of the match) you shake hands.”

More: Top seeds John Sinnott and Jonah Ng triumph in District 10 boys tennis tournament final

Wright is recovering from an injury

Wright, like Ferretti, also became one of the district’s gold medalists in doubles on Wednesday, two days after losing a singles final. Erie High’s John Sinnott defeated him 6-1, 6-3 for first place in the 3A bracket.

Unlike Ferretti, however, Wright played under physical duress on Monday. He pulled a hamstring during the second set, which he said was caused by not enough warm-up time due to a late arrival at Westwood.

Sinnott and Wright had previously scheduled placement tests. That necessitated an hour’s delay for their first service, but Wright still arrived in Westwood later than desired.

McDowell’s athletic training staff worked to loosen Wright’s hamstring on Tuesday. The session proved useful.

“I didn’t really feel anything until the end of (Wednesday),” Wright said. “It (stinks) to have an injury like that, especially during the playoffs.”

Wednesday’s all-McDowell 3A final was assured as Idzik and Neubert recorded the tournament’s most notable upset. They defeated Erie High second seeds Joe Salamon and Joel Lee 10-7 in the semifinals.

Mike has worked for the Erie Times-News editorial team since 1997 and full-time in the sports department since 2004. From 1991 to 1993, he was sports editor for the former Titusville Herald.

More: District 10 boys tennis highlights top performers among Erie County athletes: May 6-11