By JON SITLER
ERIE - Warren boys tennis coach Jeff Bartsch called it "the hat trick" on Friday night - which describes the best season this program has ever had.
Add a District 10 Class AA team title - won on Friday at Pennbriar Athletic Club in Erie - to a Region 2 championship, a District 10 singles title, and a D-10 doubles championship two days after that.
Warren advanced to the four-team D-10 team tournament after a 16-0 in the regular season. The Dragons are now 18-0 after a 4-1 D-10 semifinal win over Kennedy Catholic, and a 3-2 win over Fairview in the championship.
Keep in mind, since the inception of the D-10 team tennis tournament, Fairview had won all 11 championship trophies, including beating Warren in last year's final.
That's when the Dragons began to feel this year would be different.
"We worked our (butts) off for so long to get here," said Warren senior Thomas Pellegrino. "We knew (we could be champions) as soon as we lost to Fairview last year in the D-10. The whole team has ambition and drive - all 24 players, not just the starters... It's an amazing feeling; after we beat Fairview on the court the second time, we knew we were going to beat them today."
The first time these region rivals met this season, Fairview won, 3-2, but was forced to forfeit after a player was ruled to have been ineligible. The second time they played, Warren beat them on the court, and Pellegrino - at No. 2 singles - was a driving force. He defeated Fairview exchange student Andres Flores for the decision, ultimately.
"Thomas is the heart and soul of our team," said Bartsch. "The kid has got leadership coming out his ears, and he is the motivational force behind this group. And this is a special group."
On Monday, junior Shane Burns won the District 10 Class AA singles championship in a 39-player tournament held in Erie. On Wednesday, Pellegrino and junior Matt Sandberg won the doubles title there.
"We started thinking this could happen last year at this time," said Bartsch. "None of them take private lessons - that alone is amazing. Granted you have some core athletes that are just outstanding athletes."
"It's the hat trick," said Bartsch. "I told the boys before the match started, 'There's only one thing left.' I don't want to be corny about it, but these guys love each other, and you can see the results in all the sports they've been in."
Burns, who is the fourth Burns to play tennis for Warren, won, 6-1, 6-1, against Kennedy Catholic. Pellegrino also won in two sets, and Matt Sandberg won 6-0, 6-0. The doubles team of Grayson Foley and Nate Sandberg won in straight sets, and, even in a loss, Drew Lobdell and Liam Boger took K.C. to three sets.
Against Fairview, Matt Sandberg started out 6-0 and only gave up four games all day with a 6-4 second game win at No. 3 singles. Pellegrino beat Flores again, 7-6, 6-0, and Burns played last year's D-10 singles champ R.J. Petrella tough in a 0-6, 6-2, 3-6 loss.
In doubles, Foley and Nate Sandberg won in three sets, storming back from 3-6 to win 6-4, 6-4. Nick Tarpenning and Lobdell also went three sets in a loss, but the match had been decided and gave Bartsch a brief chance to relax with every point.
This group has gone where no other group has, but gets a chance to go further.
"Now, for the very next step, we play on Tuesday at noon in Erie in the state playoffs against a Pittsburgh team," said Bartsch. "There's a goal there - if we win that round, the whole team goes to Hershey."