DuBOIS — St. Marys’ resurgence on the District 9 boys tennis scene continued Wednesday as the duo of senior Adam Snyder and junior Zach Hart captured the doubles title at DuBois Area High School to give the program its second D-9 championship this season.
The duo also helped lead St. Marys to its first D-9 Class AA team title in eight years last week with a 3-2 win against cross-town rival Elk County Catholic. The Dutch saw their run in that event end Tuesday with a 5-0 loss to South Park in the opening round of team states.
As for Wednesday’s doubles tournament, it also turned into an all-St. Marys battle for gold as the ECC senior duo of Nick Daghir and Nolan Fannin fought their way out of the top half of the bracket to meet Snyder and Hart in the finals.
And, it was the Dutchmen who came out on top 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, to capture their first D-9 doubles title.
“I’m with my best friend here (Hart), and we work together as a doubles team pretty naturally,” said Snyder of winning his first title with Hart. “For being a season, this is the greatest season I’ve had in any of my four years. And, to do it with my best friend is just amazing.
“It’s a good experience to play them (ECC) in the finals because we know these guys, and with Nick Daghir being my cousin, we all try to be as friendly as possible. You want to win, but the sportsmanship is great between us.
“For the four years we’ve been here, we’ve always been a big competitor with ECC and we’ve always fell short to them. This year, beating them in team (finals) was huge, and topping them in doubles was a great feeling.”
“It feels good to know we won two of the three titles this year, and we hope to sweep all three next year,” added Hart.
Both teams faced some adversity to get there.
Snyder and Hart found themselves down early (6-2 or 6-3) in their 10-game pro-set quarterfinal matchup with Johnsonburg’s Kolton Mehalko and Dan Dillinger. However, the pair settled in and never lost another game en route to coming away with a 10-6 victory.
The Dutchmen then upended Punxsy’s No. 2 team of Braxton Sherry and Nick Humble, 7-5, 6-3, in the semifinals. Snyder and Hart opened their day with a 10-4 victory against Bradford’s Collin Haskins and Cadyn Sutherland.
Daghir and Fannin, ECC’s No. 1, knocked off two other school’s top teams on their way to the finals.
They opened with a 10-5 win against St. Marys’ Dylan Aiello and Kyle Gardner before finding themselves in a dogfight with Punxsy’s top squad of Vincent Gigliotti and Garrett Fairman, who were considered the favorites entering the tourney. The Chucks beat Brockway’s Nathan Bennett and Dalton Hook, 10-2, in the first round.
The two teams battled it out and eventually found themselves knotted at 8-8. That’s when one of the Punxsy players reportedly suffered an injury. He continued, but Daghir and Fannin won the final two games to pull out a 10-8 victory.
The Crusaders followed that up with a 6-4, 6-4, triumph against Johnsonburg’s top squad of Scott Lewis and Nick Bliss. The Ram duo reached the semifinals with wins against Clearfield’s Thad Butler and Hershcel Johnson (10-1) and Bradford’s top squad of Brett Degolier and Joe Yaros (10-7).
That win put Daghir and Fannin into the finals against Snyder and Hart, and the title contest proved to be just as evenly matched as the team tournament finals between the schools were a week ago.
The teams split the first two sets, with Snyder and Hart taking the first (6-4) and Daghir and Fannin the second by a similar 6-3 score.
After trading wins to start the match, Snyder and Hart raced out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set, only to see Daghir and Fannin battle back. The ECC duo won three straight games to pull within 5-4, but the Dutchmen closed out things from there to go up a set.
Daghir and Fannin bounced right back, taking the first two games of the second set — only to watch Snyder and hart win the next two to pull even at 2-2. It was all ECC from there though, as Daghir and Fannin won four of the next five games to win 6-3 and a force a third-and-deciding set.
In that winner-take-all set, it was Snyder and Hart who jumped out to an early 2-1 lead before pulling away for the 6-3 win in the set to seal their overall victory.
“For them to almost being out against Johnsonburg, to winning it all is a testament to their (Snyder, Hart) mental toughness,” said St. Marys coach Tim Henry. “Johnsonburg (Mehalko & Dillinger) was up 6-2 or 6-3 on them and they had their backs against the wall. They weren’t playing their best tennis.
“Mental toughness is big thing for us this year, and trusting each other and believing there is a way (to win). That got them through that match, then they did play their best tennis in that last match against a very good ECC team.
“Adam held his serve really well and both kept their feet moving and were hitting through the ball (in finals). It was a really competitive field though. Johnsonburg had some tough teams, as did Punxsutawney and ECC. It was some tough tennis all the way around.”
Snyder and Hart advance to play in the PIAA Class AA Doubles Tournament, which will be held May 24-25 at the Hershey Racquet Club.