DuBOIS — The District 9 Class AA Doubles Tournament featured some quality play Monday afternoon despite the competitors battling through two different weather delays at DuBois Area High School.
By day’s end, it was the Elk County Catholic duo of sophomore Isaac Wortman and senior Ryan Newton who took home the gold medals after besting Brockway seniors Josh Salada and Anthony Esposito, 6-3, 6-4, in the finals.
The doubles crown was the second in as many years for Wortman, who teamed up with Nick Daghir to beat Newton and Charles Bobby in an all-ECC finals a year ago. Daghir, a junior, played with Ross Martin this year, with that ECC tandem falling to Salada and Esposito, 10-2, in the quarterfinals.
Crusaders coach Michael Jeselnick said the decision to split up the reigning champs was a tough one but thought Wortman and Newton made for the stronger No. 1 team this year.
“Even though Isaac and Nick Daghir won together last year, I felt it was a better duo to have Ryan Newton in there with his height. He has an incredible overhead smash,” said Jeselnick. “I thought they played great today and was happy with both our doubles teams really.
“We had a few interruptions due to the weather, but Isaac Wortman and Ryan Newton always persevere under the tension of the match. They hit some great shots, as did the Brockway team. They (Salada-Esposito) played great as well and seemed to play better and better as the day went on.
“I saw some incredible points between these two teams in the finals. Both had some incredible reactions and exchanges. I’m just grateful they (Wortman-Newton) hung in there and they won that last game to take the match.”
The finals started out as an even battle, with both finals teams holding serve through the first six games. Salada and Esposito, who served first, took leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 only to see Wortman and Newton answer back each time.
The Crusader duo got the first break in the match when they broke Esposito serve’s in the seventh game to go up 4-3. Wortman then held serve before the Crusaders broke Salada serve to take the first set 6-3.
The second set start much like the first, only ECC served first.
With the set tied 2-2, the Rover duo broke Newton’s serve to grab a 3-2 advantage. However, that game started a run of four straight service breaks, with the end result being the set tied 4-4.
Newton then held his serve at love to put ECC on top 5-4 before he and Wortman broke Salada’s serve to win the set 6-4 and the title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Wortman and Newton lost just three games on their way to the finals.
They blanked Brockway’s Weston Hrin and Nathan Bennett, 10-0, in the first round before beating Bradford’s Jared Lucas and Alex Barton, 10-1, in the quarterfinals.
The ECC duo then reached the finals with a 6-0, 6-2 semifinal victory against St. Marys’ Joe Lewis and Cody Schaberl.
Lewis and Schaberl, St. Marys’ No. 2 team. picked up a pair of wins en route to the semifinals. They beat Punxsutwney’s top team if Vincent Gigliotti and Braxton Sherry, 10-5, in the first round before pulling out a wild 11-10 (7-2) victory against Clearfield’s top squad of Avery Rowles and Landon Rosinsky in the quarterfinals.
As for Salada and Esposito, they faced a harder path to the finals but saw their level of play pick up with each round.
The Rover duo opened with with a 10-4 win against Clearfield’s Kyler Rosinsky and Cruz Wright before dispatching of Daghir and Martin in the quarterfinals.
That win set up a showdown with St. Marys’ top team of Adam Snyder and Zach Hart in the semifinals. The Dutchmen opened strong, winning the first set 6-2. However, Salada and Esposito quickly regrouped and rallied to win the last two sets, 6-3, 6-0 to clinch a berth in the finals.
Snyder and Hart collected a pair of wins on the day — besting Bradford’s Brett Degolier and Joe Yaros, 10-6, in the first round before beating Punxsutawney’s Garrett Fairman and Andrew Young, 10-2, in the quarterfinals.
Elk County’s Daghir and Martin upended Johnsonburg’s Nick Bliss and Kolton Mehalko, 10-2, in the first round.
By winning the title, Wortman and Newton advance to play in the PIAA Class AA Doubles Championships, which will be held May 25-26 at the Hershey Racquet Club.