by Tom Utescher
The very young Springside Chestnut Hill Academy tennis team played its first home Inter-Ac match last Tuesday, falling to league rival Malvern Prep, 6-1.
The lone senior in the Blue Devils’ line-up, Ethan Springer, won at third singles to save his squad from a shutout. He lost the opening set to Friars junior Nick Mangano by a 6-3 score, then tied the bout by taking the second segment, 6-4. Because this was the last match out on the court and the visitors had already clinched the team victory, a super tiebreaker was played in place of a full third set, and Springer prevailed, 10-5.
The other two singles contests and the four doubles matches were all won in straight sets by Malvern.
The Friars, who have six seniors and two juniors among their starting 11, evened up their Inter-Ac record at 1-1 after opening with a 2-5 loss at home against Germantown Academy.
SCH, which had made its Inter-Ac debut with a 1-6 setback at Penn Charter, slipped to 0-4 overall. For the Malvern match, the Blue Devils were missing an ailing Caiden Stauffer, one of their better doubles players. He is one of six freshmen who have played in varsity matches thus far, and eighth-grade twins Carlo and Sante Filippini have also seen action with the first-string squad.
Teaming up with ninth-grader Simon Kioko in the third doubles flight last Tuesday, Carlo Filippini was part of the most youthful quartet on any one court during the match. The two Blue Devils put up a real fight in the first set before falling by a 7-5 count. Malvern Prep freshmen Dan Harrington and Dylan Tran won a bit more easily in the second round, 6-3.
Harrington’s brother James, a senior, was representing the Friars at first singles. There, he took two 6-0 sets from SCH’s Jordan Lubell, who is only a sophomore. Another visiting 12th-grader, Alex Sorenson, topped Blue Devils freshman Victor Jones at number two, 6-1, 6-1.
Jones’ brother on the SCH team, Wilson, is a junior who played first doubles last Tuesday along with freshman Ehson Shirazi. They succumbed to Malvern seniors Nick Elia and Brendan Mullen, 6-2, 6-1, and another 12th-grade combo for the visitors, Matt Dinehart and Kevin Rousey, gave up a few more games before wrapping up a 6-4, 6-3 win over Springside Chestnut Hill sophomore Luke Newman and freshman Cole Golden.
In the fourth doubles spot, the Blue Devils’ 10th-grade tandem of Tague Harmaty and Finley Blake succumbed to sophomore Spencer Panzo and junior Christian Ostrowski of the Friars in two 6-2 sets.
“It’s a process with this very young group of players, a long process of building up the program,” remarked first-year head coach Simthembile “Sim” Heeren. “These other Inter-Ac schools take their tennis seriously, and we need to start to take the same approach if we want to compete.”