ERIE - Warren junior Shane Burns captured the District 10 Class AA Singles Championship, 6-3, 7-5, on Monday afternoon at the Pennbriar Club.
Facing senior and top-seeded Chad Ferguson, of Greenville, Burns opened the match with a 4-0 start in the first set. He was hitting some big serves, which kept his opponent in the back court, said Warren coach Jeff Bartsch.
"His ground strokes were landing just inside forcing his opponent to work from 10-to-15 feet behind the baseline," said Bartsch. "Shane kept working and broke down the opponent's game by attacking the net and hitting some killer volleys."
File photos by Denny Kyser
District 10 champion
Warren Area High School junior Shane Burns, pictured, won the District 10 Class AA Singles Championship in high school boys tennis on Monday. Burns, 19-3 overall on the season and the No. 2 seed in the 39-player tournament, defeated top-seeded Chad Ferguson, of Greenville, 6-3, 7-5, at the indoor Pennbriar Club.
Photo submitted to Times Observer
From left, Warren boys tennis coach Jeff Bartsch, D-10 Singles Champion Shane Burns and Warren assistant coach Norm Dziendziel
Burns wrapped up the first set with a 6-3 score.
The second set was a bit more perilous as Ferguson was serving for the set, up 5-4.
"Shane fought off a total of five set points, brought the game back to deuce before taking the game - knotting the set at 5 games all," said Bartsch.
"The balls were fluffing up at this point and the opponent was able to get back into the match," said Warren assistant Norm Dziendziel.
At this point in the match, Burns attacked the net on every point and forced the opponent to go for winners.
"Burns was impressive at the net as he returned almost every ball driven at him or down the line," said Dziendziel.
Burns took control at 6-5. On match point, he leaped high for an open-court volley at the net. The ball dropped in and the match was won by a 7-5 second set score.
"This was a great win for Shane and Warren tennis," said Bartsch. "Shane had dropped a match last week to Ferguson in Sharon, but today he had a better plan to win the match. His plan was to get to the net, force the issue and make his opponent hit winners. His execution was good and the win was a great one for Shane."
This is only the third time a Warren boys tennis player has won the D10 singles title. It was won by Adam Bartsch back in 1997, and Jeff Nuhfer in 2007.
Bartsch said Burns had a tremendous opportunity, and that opportunity was not lost on the junior.
"I've always wanted to win this ever since I was a freshman," said Burns. "I prepared for it. I felt like I had that opportunity when I won the first few games; I started to feel more confident, took a few more risks."
Burns (19-3) lost an 8-3 set to Ferguson at the Tri-County Tennis Tournament in Sharon less than a week ago, but he said he didn't lose confidence. He said the Pennbriar Club indoor courts are fast and conducive to his game. Without the outdoor elements, Burns just let his natural ability take over.
He also had a huge support system.
"I came into it and knew what I needed to do," he said. "(The coaches) kind of pointed out the things I was doing wrong when I played him the first time. I couldn't ask for better coaches, for all the support they've given me, plus my parents, my brothers... I want to thank Jeff Nuhfer - he traveled all the way from Bloomsburg."
"Jeff (Nuhfer) came in from Bloomsburg to support Shane and to warm him up for the match. This was greatly appreciated by Shane," said Bartsch. "Shane was ecstatic as he was interviewed by the Erie TV stations. He thanked everyone who supported him and enabled him to get to this position. We are very proud of this young man. Shane will now move on to the PIAA state championships in two weeks."
This season was the first time the Dragons had three of the four semifinalists in the D-10 Singles Championships, coach Bartsch said after Saturday's rounds of tennis.
Next up for the Dragons, the team has one final match to play on Tuesday at Harbor Creek. On Wednesday, two doubles teams will represent the Dragons in the District 10 Doubles Championships, again at the Pennbriar Club in Erie. The teams will be announced on Wednesday.