Rick Sertz coached Fairview’s 2010 boys tennis team to that season’s PIAA Class 2A final.
Those Tigers remain the only District 10 program to life for such a championship since state play began in 2001.
Fairview’s current team defeated Cathedral Prep 3-2 in Friday’s district final. If those Tigers needed motivation beyond becoming their sport’s first title-winning team from northwestern Pennsylvania, their coach provided it after that best-of-five dual at Westwood Racquet Club.
Sertz, who’s led one of the school’s most successful athletic programs since 1999, informed the Erie Times-News he’ll resign after the upcoming PIAA tournaments at Hershey Racquet Club.
All but the first round of its team tournament will take place there next weekend, followed by its entire singles and doubles competition on May 27-28.
Singles champions emerge:District 10 boys tennis singles championships
Sertz stressed he will remain the coach of Fairview’s girls tennis team, a position he’s held since 2012. The 1983 Mercyhurst University graduate also will continue his job as a teaching professional at Westwood.
Sertz, who turns 62 next month, said Fairview’s current seniors were the only people who knew of decision before Friday. He began to contemplate stepping down three years ago, but recent health issues and a desire to spend more time with his wife, Lisa, moved such thoughts to the forefront.
“There comes a time when your body tells you it’s time to ease back,” he said. “I’ve been here (nearly) a quarter century and I feel like this is a good time to do this. (Resigning) opens up three months of the year that my wife and I can travel and do more stuff.
“I’m not leaving tennis. I’ll still plan to coach (Fairview’s girls) for a number of years and the local summer youth program so I can get the next generation of kids interested in the game.”
Sertz is the only boys tennis coach has known this century and the only one who’s led the program for each of the Tigers’ PIAA team tournament appearances.
Not counting 2020, when there were no spring sports because of COVID-19, Fairview has qualified for 20 of the state’s 21 team championships.
District 10 doubles:Fairview, McDowell duos win D-10 boys tennis doubles
Friday’s victory against Prep also clinched the Tigers’ 18th district championship of Sertz’s tenure. His up-to-date dual record as their coach is 370-76.
Sertz became emotional while he spoke about the number of wins, and more important the number of players he’s worked with, over his 24-year career at Fairview.
“That’s mind-numbing to me to (coach) a program that wins 83 percent of the time,” he said. “I’ve have more than 400 players come through the program. I don’t know who’s going to come in here now, but I do know it’s a good program in a great township.”
Tigers top Ramblers
Fairview’s players made sure Friday wasn’t the last time Sertz collectively coached them. They improved to 19-0 with a 5-0 semifinal victory vs. Greenville and then their 3-2 win over the Ramblers, who concluded their 2022 dual season at 13-6.
Graham Louis was responsible for Fairview’s decisive third team point. The sophomore prevailed through shaky play late in the second set of his No. 3 singles match for a 6-4, 6-4 win against Prep’s Austin Glance.
“I got a little nervous when I lost those two games at 5-2 (in the second set),” Louis said. “I knew we were up (2-1) and it was going to come down to the me and No. 2 doubles. I also knew I was closer to finishing, so it felt really good to win.”
Glenn Louis, Graham’s older brother, was paired with Jack Allen in that No. 2 doubles match. Prep’s Cameron Grieshaber and James Casella defeated them 7-5, 6-4, but their victory still left the Ramblers one shy of the title.
Fairview’s other winners were Nate Kisiel in No. 2 singles and the duo of Jack Mehler and Chris Spriegel in No. 1 doubles.
Jonah Ng accounted for Prep’s first team point. The freshman, who won the district’s 2A singles tournament earlier this week, beat Fairview’s Aravind Turaga 6-0, 6-1 in their No. 1 singles match.
Trojans’ Neubert overcomes birth defect
The McDowell Trojans also defended as district Class 3A team champions. They lost only one game over six sets of their singles matches against Erie High en route to a 5-0 win in the teams’ final.
McDowell also beat District 9 DuBois by that same score in the teams’ PIAA subregion dual that concluded Friday’s action at Westwood. The Trojans will take an 11-7 record into next Tuesday’s first round of state play.
Christian Neubert was among players who helped extend McDowell’s season. Coach Richard Beck paired the freshman with classmate Jace McAdams in No. 2 doubles. They defeated Erie High’s John Sinnott and Joe Salamon 6-2, 6-1.
Neubert went from taking up tennis in the seventh grade to becoming a regular in McDowell’s starting lineup midway through this season.
Even more notable is he did so while still getting acclimated to the custom-designed prosthetic he’s using to toss the ball on serves.
Neubert was born without a left hand. Before this year, he had to trap his racket under his left arm, toss the ball with his right and then grab the racket to serve in one motion.
“I go to the Shriners Hospital and they helped me pick out (a tennis prosthetic) out of this big catalog,” Neubert said. “It was actually designed for pitching in baseball, but we decided to try it out. We tweaked it a little bit and here we are.
“There’s still a ton of work to be done with it, but it’s only an up for me.”
Aaron Heinlein, Eric Cui and Sahil Jain were McDowell’s winners in each of Friday’s 3A duals. Dan Bargielski and John Ferretti were the Trojans’ duo in No. 1 doubles.
PIAA team tournament
Win or lose, Sertz’s last local appearance as Fairview’s boys tennis coach will be next Tuesday at Westwood.
The Tigers will take on North Catholic at noon in the opening round of the PIAA 2A tournament. North Catholic is the WPIAL’s second seed.
Shady Side Academy, McDowell’s 3A opponent, also is seeded second out of District 7. Those teams are scheduled to start play at 1:15 pm
Tuesday’s winners will advance to the main portion of the PIAA team tournament, which runs next weekend at Hershey.
Contact Mike Copper at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ETNcopper.
Results for the District 10 boys team tennis tournament at Westwood Racquet Club. The winners advanced to Tuesday’s first round of the PIAA tournament:
CATHEDRAL PREP – 4
WARREN – 1
Singles: Jonah Ng (CP) def. Logan Fincher 6-1, 6-0; Hayden Hutchinson (CP) def. Will Strasbourg 6-2, 6-2; Austin Glance (CP) def. Abe Wolf 6-3, 6-4
Doubles: Max Harrison-Mark Lynds (W) def. Aryan Noticewala-Colin Troutman 5-2 retired; Cameron Grieshaber-James Casella (CP) def. Owen Strandburg-Adam Strandburg 2-6, 7-5 retired
Cathedral Prep 13-5, Warren 12-3
GREENVILLE – 0
Singles: Aravind Turaga (W) def. Anthony Gentile 6-2, 6-2; Nate Kisiel (F) def. Isaac Hightree 6-0, 6-0; Graham Louis (F) def. Finn Butcher 6-0, 6-0
Doubles: Jacob Mehler-Chris Spriegel (F) def. Bobby Barr-Saku Fujita 6-1, 6-0; Glenn Louis-Jack Allen (F) def. Alex Harcourt-Zach Morgan 6-1, 6-1
Fairview 18-0, Greenville 10-3
CATHEDRAL PREP – 2
Singles: Jonah Ng (CP) def. Aravind Turaga 6-0, 6-0; Nate Kisiel (W) def. Hayden Hutchinson 6-0, 6-1; Graham Louis (F) def. Austin Glance 6-4, 6-4
Doubles: Jacob Mehler-Chris Spriegel (F) def. Aryan Noticewala-Colin Troutman 6-1, 6-0; Cameron Grieshaber-James Casella (CP) def. Glenn Louis-Jack Allen 7-5, 6-4
Fairview 19-0, Cathedral Prep 13-6
ERIE HIGH – 0
Singles: Aaron Heinlein (Mc) def. Evan Nadzam 6-0, 6-0; Eric Cui (Mc) def. Nate Devlin 6-0, 6-0; Sahil Jain (Mc) def. Shaan Patel 6-0, 6-1
Doubles: Dan Bargielski-John Ferretti (Mc) def. Kyle Westfall-Joel Lee 6-3, 6-1; Jace McAdams-Christian Neubert (Mc) def. John Sinnott-Joe Salamon 6-2, 6-1
McDowell 10-7, Erie High 2-7
Dubois – 0
Singles: Aaron Heinlein (Mc) def. Cody Jaconski 6-1, 6-1; Eric Cui (Mc) def. Zach Johnson 6-3, 6-2; Sahil Jain (Mc) def. Houston Hemke 6-1, 7-5
Doubles: Dan Bargielski-John Ferretti (Mc) def. Brohm Hemke-Ben Gribik 6-3, 6-1; Jace McAdams-Christian Neubert (Mc) def. John Miller-Aum Patel 6-3, 6-4