HS TENNIS: Lackawanna League stars open PIAA Tournaments

May 26—Players from the Lackawanna League open their PIAA Tennis Tournaments on Friday at the Hershey Racquet Center.

Western Wayne freshman Tristan Vivona brings an undefeated record into his first state Class 2A tournament. He will take on Masterman's Ajay Sheth, who is the District 12 champion, during the 8 a.m. session.

Luke Kotcho, a Valley View senior, faces Dallastown sophomore Hayden Koons, the runner-up from District 3, in the Class 3A tournament in the noon session.

Scranton Prep's team of Akhilesh Velaga and Ethan Borick faces Masterman's District 12 championship team of Kevin McHale and Daniel Li in the Class 2A Doubles first round session that starts at 10 a.m.

Praneel Mallaiah and Luke Morgan, the District 2 doubles championship team from Abington Heights, play Cumberland Valley's Sami Kazi-Ross Kluger, the runner-up in District 3, in the Class 3A doubles session at 2 p.m.

Vivona, who is ranked No. 9 among freshmen by, took the Lackawanna League by storm in his debut season. He did not lose a set in the regular season or the District 2 Class 2A singles tournament and defeated Velaga, the defending champion, 6-0, 6-0, in the final, despite battling through an injured back.

Sheth is a three-star recruit, according to tennis He defeated Engineering & Science's Samir Roberts-Mouzon, 6-1, 6-0, for his third consecutive District 12 championship. In his sophomore season, Sheth defeated Quaker Valley's Mike Sirianni, 6-1, 6-0, in the first round of states before losing in the quarterfinals, and last season was set for a rematch with Sirianni, but Sirianni withdrew.

"Obviously, you look at the draw, and I play one of the best players in the tournament right off the bat in the first round," Vivona said. "I am going to compete hard and try to get off to a good start. I am playing an opponent who is a senior and who has a lot of experience in big tournaments, so I am going to work hard, play my game, and see how it goes."

Kotcho, who competed in Class 3A this season when Valley View voluntarily moved up a classification for this two-year cycle, defeated Wilkes-Barre Area's Michael Hamel, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, in the district final. He also beat Mallaiah, the defending District 2 Class 3A singles champion, in the semifinals, 7-6 (2), 7-5.

Koons, who lost to

District 3 champion Cooper Lehman, 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, is ranked 14th by

"I am super excited, and I prepared as much as possible," Kotcho said. "I am trying to stay focused, not let the excitement get to me too much, and I want to stay in my match and play as well as I can."

Last season, Morgan reached the state doubles tournament with his partner Sam Christman for Abington Heights. Velaga also has state tournament experience after losing in the first round of the Class 2A singles tournament in 2022.

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