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DUBOIS â No matter who they played, Punxsy junior Tim Pearce and sophomore Mike Blose weren't going to be stopped in district play this season.
The duo completed an 11-0 season with a 3-0 day Friday in DuBois to claim the 2011 District IX Class AAA Boys' Tennis Doubles Championship.
As underclassmen with six seniors on the roster, it was unclear how Pearce and Blose would fit into the 2011 Chucks' plans. But a chance doubles practice early in the season started a bond on the court between the two players.
"We played together once at practice, and it just kind of clicked," Pearce said.
As the year went on, Pearce and Blose continued their undefeated play. At times, they were the only players who earned wins for Punxsy, and by the time the doubles brackets were released, they were Punxsy's No. 1 doubles team, not seniors Dave Roberts and Brandon Bish.
In the end, both of Punxsy's teams reached Friday's district final, and the underdog seniors were the ones who struck first.
Roberts and Bish won the first set, 6-3, but Pearce and Blose turned the tide to win the final two sets, 6-4, 6-4.
"I think our attitudes changed a lot after the first set," Blose said. "Once we were up 3-1 in the second set, we really started to buckle down."
Roberts and Bish were tired from their previous match â a near 2 1/2-hour marathon victory over DuBois' No. 1 team of Alex and Ian Davis. Roberts and Bish defeated the DuBois pair, 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 7-6 (7-4).
All the while, Pearce and Blose were waiting and watching intently. They just came off an interesting win of their own â 7-5, 7-5 over Bradford's No. 1 team of seniors Andy Eliason and Andrew Carroll.
Pearce and Blose were behind 4-1 in the first set and 4-2 in the second set, but won both sets without needing the tiebreaker.
"They were really consistent. They could hit everything back like robots," Pearce said. "We just kind of played with them a little bit, and they got frustrated. We just kept hammering at them, and they couldn't handle it."
After a spirited effort during the first set against Pearce and Blose, Roberts and Bish couldn't keep up. Pearce and Blose had a 90-minute rest entering the final, while Roberts and Bish were nearly spent by the time the final arrived.
"We came out confident because we were the No. 1 seed overall, but then when they dropped us in the first set, it was like, 'Oh no,'" Pearce said. "Then we just played how we normally play, and they got tired easily. Their legs caught up to them."
Earlier in the day, Pearce and Blose beat Clearfield's Cory Maines and Jordan McAllister, 6-0, 6-1. Roberts and Bish started the day with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Clearfield's Ryan Bower and Kunal Patel.
Blose said that in the Punxsy versus Punxsy final, which had never happened under 10-year Punxsy head coach Todd Heigley, it was hard to beat his teammates. But the atmosphere made for an enjoyable experience.
Only Punxsy's family and friends remained as the Chucks' four-best doubles players battled for the district title, he said.
"It was more fun and almost like we were playing by ourselves," Blose said. "It was like our parents were watching a practice."
Blose and Pearce will now prepare for next Friday, which is the start of the PIAA Championships in Hershey. Heigley is excited about how they can do next week and how this will be a positive entering next season.
"For the underclassmen, it's a nice tone for next year. It kind of builds momentum and incentive for the rest of the team," Heigley said. "If they continue to play together and play all summer, the sky's the limit for them next year."View more articles in: