PHOENIXVILLE — As a sophomore boys tennis player at Spring-Ford, Ryan Schweitzer is in his second year of becoming acclimated with Pioneer Athletic Conference competition.
The 10th grader is still learning about tennis and the accompanying pressure that goes along with being inserted into the varsity lineup at a young age.
Schweitzer has responded well at third singles for the Rams, and he came through in a big way again Tuesday afternoon in a PAC-10 matchup against Phoenixville at the Leo J. Scoda Tennis Courts.
Schweitzer outlasted Luke Lombardi in three sets at third singles to snap a 3-3 tie and give Spring-Ford a 4-3 victory over the Phantoms. The scores were 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
“It was good,” Schweitzer said of the close encounter between the two neighboring schools. (The key was) just keepaing the ball in and working points, and finishing them out when I had the chance.”
Schwetizer spent a lot of time during the offseason fine-tuning his game during winter indoor sessions.
“I do try to stay up with my game,” said Schweitzer. “I play tennis indoors and I play tennis with my friends.”
Phoenixville led 3-2 with two matches left to decide the match. But Spring-Ford freshman Patrick Pascual came up with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Chris Walsh at second singles to tie the match and leave it all up to the Schweitzer-Lombardi match.
“It was a good, close match,” said Spring-Ford coach John Brennan. “We have a habit of it down here. The last time it came down to fourth doubles. This time it was third singles. I am proud of Ryan to pull out that third set. After winning the second set, Luke had the momentum. But Ryan pulled it out and I am really proud of him.”
The victory hiked Spring-Ford’s dual meet record to 2-0 in the PAC-10 and 7-1 overall, the lone setback a loss to Downingtown East in the Spring-Ford Tournament. Phoenixville dropped to 1-2 in league play and 3-5 overall against a demanding schedule.
“Give Patrick credit at second singles, too, as a freshman,” said Brennan. “They are two young guys who are going to get better and better as they play singles matches the next couple years.”
The Phantoms got a jump early as seniors Jeff Potts and Ryan Cadigan continued their solid play at first doubles with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over John Gracie and Mike McCabe.
Then defending PAC-10 Singles champion Karlyn Small, a junior, made it 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over senior Joey Graziadei at first singles.
Spring-Ford began its comeback at second doubles as seniors Seth Ryberg and Jon Palmer defeated juniors Bobby Newman and Ben McKeon 7-5, 6-1 to put the Rams on the scoreboard.
“We knew it was going to be tough with their first singles and first doubles,” said Brennan. “Karyln is hands-down the best player in the league. We had to find a way to win four points in five matches. Perkiomen Valley did it with their three doubles matches over there. But you know when you play Phoenixville, it is going to be tough. They are consistent and they play smart. Coach Scoda is a legend and a great coach. We just wanted to compete in the match at the beginning of the day.
“I am really proud of our kids. It was a team effort. It is a tough atmosphere and environment to play down here, but they embraced it.”
Scoda saw his Phantoms drop another tough 4-3 match in league battles, first against Perkiomen Valley and then Spring-Ford with a victory over Pottsgrove sandwiched in between those two encounters.
“We keep losing close points in close matches,” said Scoda.
At second singles, Walsh held leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in the first set before Pascual rallied to win the set and then maintained that momentum during the second set.
At third singles, Schweitzer took leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in the first set and then became more proficient at 5-2 before closing out the set. Lombardi bounced back in the second set by taking the first game and then turning a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead and then also at 4-3 and 5-4 before claiming the set for a split that forced the decisive third set. Schweitzer took the first game and kept the lead throughout the set. In game 10, Schweitzer, a left-hander, served out the set and scored four straight points to take the set, match, and give the team verdict to the Rams.
At second doubles, Phoenixville led the first set 3-2, but Spring-Ford seniors Seth Ryberg and Jon Palmer countered to make it 4-3 and 5-4 before the Phantoms knotted the score at 5-5 with juniors Bobby Newman and Ben McKeon. The Rams took the next two games to win the set. Phoenixville won the first game of the second set, but the Rams took control after that point.
In the third doubles match, the Rams’ junior duo of Luke Emerson and Zach Collier won 5-2 in the first set. But the Phantoms had leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in the second set but could not sustain them.
The Rams had leads of 3-2 in both the first and second sets at fourth doubles, but the Phantoms’ Austin Starczewski and Mike Pinelli retaliated to win 6-4, 6-3.