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Beavers top Chucks to claim team district title

May 11, 2011

(Above) Punxsy senior Brandon Bish chases down a ball during the No. 2 singles match against DuBois' Alex Davis during the District IX Class AAA Boys' Tennis Team Tournament Finals Wednesday afternoon in DuBois. (Photo by Dan Walk/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

DUBOIS — Wednesday's 4-1 score doesn't fully represent how close the DuBois boys' tennis team's victory over Punxsy in the District IX Class AAA Team Tournament Finals in DuBois.

After the Chucks fell behind 2-0, they won a doubles match and were ahead during the No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles matches. Punxsy couldn't hold onto either lead and had to settle for runner-up distinction for the third time in four seasons.

"We were so close, yet so far," Punxsy head coach Todd Heigley said. "I'm just really proud of the way the kids battled. They didn't give up until the last points were decided."

DuBois' Palmer Casteel, this year's District IX Class AAA Singles Champion, defeated Adam Murdock, 6-2, 6-0, and the Beavers' Alex Davis bested Brandon Bish, 7-5, 6-3 to put Punxsy behind 2-0. But the Chucks proved that the match was far from over.

Punxsy's Mike Blose and Tim Pearce completed a 6-4, 6-4 win over Patrick Johnston and Colton Ames to make it a 2-1 match, while No. 1 player Dave Roberts and No. 2 doubles team Jacob Palaschak and Anthony Pascuzzo were on the comeback trail.

Roberts and Palaschak/Pascuzzo dropped the first set, only to tie things at one by winning set No. 2. Following split sets, Roberts was then ahead 4-2 in his singles match, and Palaschak and Pascuzzo held a 5-4 advantage over Matt Fultz and Luke Haskins.

DuBois' players then provided a comeback of their own. Fultz and Haskins forced a tiebreaker by taking the third set to 6-6. After they fell behind 2-1 in the tiebreaker, they scored six of the match's next seven points to complete the Beavers' match victory.

Fultz and Haskins ended up with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3) win over Palaschak and Pascuzzo.

Top-seeded DuBois had already clinched the victory when Trey Gilmore completed the victory over Roberts with four-straight game victories, which led to a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 Gilmore win.

"I really thought Dave had one, and Jake and Anthony went right down to the tiebreaker," Heigley said. "I really thought we had a really good shot toward the end to pull off an upset. It just didn't work out."

Blose and Pearce never trailed during Punxsy's only win. They were up 5-2 during both sets, but were tested late in each set. DuBois cut both 5-2 deficits to 5-4 when Blose and Pearce finished them off both times.

Roberts was in control of Gilmore during the first set, 4-1. He won one game during the rest of the set during a 7-5 loss.

Roberts then surged ahead with a 6-4 second-set win and a 4-2 third-set lead that he couldn't maintain.

Palaschak and Pascuzzo made up for an opening-match 6-2 loss by winning the second set, 6-2. They led 3-1 and 5-4 during the third set, but couldn't hold on for the victory.

Punxsy went 4-8 last season with a team that didn't have a senior. This year, with five seniors and two juniors on the district team playoff lineup, the Chucks nearly won the title.

"I couldn't ask for a nicer group of kids to work with this year. Even after some of the setbacks a year ago with some of the kids being so young, they really matured," Heigley said. "This year, it was a good year. I think we finished strong."

As far as the playoffs go, Punxsy's season is complete as a team. The Chucks' regular season will continue at 4:15 p.m. today at home against DuBois.

What will follow is the District IX Class AAA Doubles Tournament, which will take place Monday in DuBois.

Blose and Pearce, who improved to 7-0 together this season Wednesday, will be Punxsy's No. 1 doubles team Monday. Roberts and Bish will be the other team.

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