Scott beats MCT champion

BOYS TENNIS: John Scott defeated Princeton’s Ilia Shatashvili, the Mercer County champion, 7-5, 6-2 in a Falcons’ loss.

By: Neil Hay
   Whatever the sport, the Peddie-Blair rivalry is second to none for these two schools. So visiting Peddie’s 5-2 boys tennis win Saturday over the Bucs, their second of the spring, went down nice and easy for coach Eric Gustavson’s netters.
   John Scott suffered a rare loss at first singles, when he was defeated 6-2, 6-4 by Chris Wong. Yuriy Pereyaslavskiy continues to mow down anyone with a racquet in his hand, as he did against the Bucs’ Armin Drake, 6-1, 6-0. Fourth singles went to the Falcons’ Todd Roffman, 6-7 (1-7 tiebreaker), 6-2, 6-2.
   The Falcons copped all three doubles matches. At one Derek Chao and Josh McGuiness outscored Tom Gianis and Andrew Schmeelk, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2; Ross Packard and Derrick Guneratne stopped Agbesi Akpedonu and Ritchie Eu, 6-2, 6-0 ; and Sabbie Sandhu and Kyle Leotsakos defeated Mike Wilson and Patrick Gordon, 6-2, 7-5.
   "Blair’s big. It’s good to beat them. We shuffled the lineup (due to an injury and another commitment). I was pleased, the kids we put in all stepped up and played well."
   In Tuesday’s 5-2 win at Hun, the Falcons put together what Gustavson called "Our best performance of the year. We played really well."
   Scott defeated Scott Wong 6-3, 6-4; Pereyaslavskiy defeated Ankeet Kansupada 6-0, 6-2; and Roffman won at four over Joe Cohen, 6-1, 6-0.
   In doubles results, Passannante and Chao united to defeat Alex Wright and Andrew Tervooren 6-4, 6-1; and Packard and Guneratne defeated Matt Krieger and Dan Newsome 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
   Highlights of the win included the showing of Will Patterson, who "lost but played a great match to a very good player;" the effort of Passannante and Chao who avenged an early season loss to Wright and Tervooren and "came back and won decisively;" and the "nice win" at third doubles by Packard and Guneratne.
   But Gustavson was not in a similar mood Wednesday after his team lost 6-1 to a very good Hill squad at home.
   "I knew we had to play very well to beat Hill and we didn’t."
   Peddie’s lone point of the day came at first doubles when Chao and Passannante defeated Wei Ong and Ken Okuyama 7-6 (10-8), 6-2. Said Gustavson, "They played very well. They’ve been together now for a couple of weeks and are coming along. Their back-to-back wins over Hun and Hill are very impressive."
   The loss dropped the Falcons’ record to 11-6.
   Tomorrow the locals will be one of seven (eight if Delbarton participates) teams in the state Prep A Tournament at Lawrenceville. The tourney gets underway with a 10-game pro set opening round. After that the tourney will be played under the usual best-of-three format. Seeds will be determine tomorrow morning before the first match. If seven teams play, the top seed will draw a bye in the first round. Gustavson is hopeful Scott will be seeded second at first singles, Pereyaslavskiy could be first seed at two singles, and Chao and Passannante should also earn a high seed at first doubles.
   A key to the team’s showing will be the availability of Patterson, who last year made finals at third singles. If he is healthy and ready to go, the entire lineup will be strengthened.
   "If things break for us, we have a chance to do very well," said Gustavson. "We have to play better than we did against Hill. We can play better."
   It seemed that, just about whenever the Peddie tennis team stepped out on the court these days, the team on the other side of the net was among the state’s best.
   Moorestown. Lawrenceville. Princeton. All worthy opponents. All successful against the Falcons.
   But the most emotional match was back on May 2, the annual get-together between Peddie and local rival Hightstown. For the first time in a very long time, both teams were well fortified at the top of the lineup.
   For the Rams’ Chris Clayton, it was his first match at Peddie since he transferred to Hightstown during his sophomore year. He was going up against the Falcons’ number one, Scott. Clayton was favored to win the Mercer County Tournament, but settled for third place. Scott, however, did not get a chance to compete against his peers as Peddie opted to skip the tournament.
   "Scott against Clayton was a big match," said Gustavson after Scott defeated Clayton 6-4, 6-3. "It was kind of an emotional match for everyone. John played very well. It was difficult for Chris, having to come back to play at Peddie. It was a big match for John. John was (Peddie’s) number one two years ago, Chris number two. John wanted to reaffirm his position as number one. Also John missed the county tournament, and Chris was the number one seed. John got up early and didn’t allow Chris a chance to get back in the match."
   The rest of the flights were all Peddie, as the Falcons cruised 5-0. At two Pereyaslavskiy defeated Sonny Randhawa 6-0, 6-0; and Patterson scored a 6-0, 6-1 win over Mark Petruniak at three. At first doubles, Peddie’s Chao and Passannante defeated Rob Stein and Vivek Balakrishna; and at second doubles McGuiness and Roffman bested Kaval Shah and Bhavi Patel 6-1, 6-3.
   "We had solid performances and won comfortably," said Gustavson of the other four matches.
   The following day Peddie was edged, 3-2, by visiting Moorestown. Scott survived an exciting match against Arjun Chandar, winning 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5 tiebreaker). And Pereyaslavskiy posted a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Brian Riley for Peddie’s second point.
   On May 5th Peddie sent visiting Mercersburg Academy packing after taking a 6-1 decision. After starting slowly, Scott rallied from 1-3 in the second set to defeat Matt Diller 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Said Gustavson, "John played tough. When he had to, he tightened up his game."
   Pereyaslavskiy "did what he had to do to win" in a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Wynn Thane. And Patterson overcame a slow start to topple Andrew Chiang 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   "Once he got going, he became confident and played well. It was his best match of the year."
   Mercersburg’s lone point of the day came at fourth singles, when Kevin Lin defeated Roffman 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. It was Roffman’s first match at singles. Said Gustavson, "It was close, a gut wrenching match. I thought Todd played well for his first singles match. Lin was a bit more consistent, more experienced."
   The locals swept the doubles matches: Chao and Passannante breezed past Eric Rahauersen and Chip Cutshall 6-0,6-0; McGuiness and Leotsakos, teamed for the first time, won 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 over John Mooney and Peter Huang; and Packard and Prashad stifled Drew Walton and Yoon Chang 6-2, 6-2.
   Lawrenceville defeated Peddie, 6-1. Pereyaslavskiy gave Peddie its only point when he bested Ross Rosenstein 6-1, 7-6 (8-6).
   The Falcons faced another outstanding opponent Tuesday when they traveled to Princeton. In a close, well-played match the Tigers won their 18th match (against one loss) with a 3-2 victory.
   Scott, who already had beaten the county tournament’s top seed when he defeated Clayton, added another trophy when he outdueled Ilia Shatashvili, the MCT champion at first singles, 7-5, 6-2. In Gustavson’s eyes, "That makes John the de facto Mercer County Tournament champion. Too bad he didn’t play the county tournament. It’s really frustrating. John’s been playing well. He has wins against a lot of solid players. It was a very solid victory."
   Pereyaslavskiy scored a 6-0, 6-0 triumph over Greg Wu, the Mercer County Tournament champ at second singles. Recalled Gustavson, "Pereyaslavskiy overpowered Wu. Scott and Pereyaslavskiy is our best one-two punch" in years.