ERIE - For the second straight season, Warren has swept through the District 10 Class AA postseason.
On Monday, Shane Burns won his second straight D-10 singles title. On Wednesday, the brother duo of Matt and Nathan Sandberg claimed the D-10 doubles crown. On Friday, Warren knocked off Harbor Creek and Fairview to bring its second straight District 10 team title back to Warren Area High School.
"This is our second team championship in two years," said Warren coach Jeff Bartsch. "Our kids are ecstatic. They have worked so hard for the past six months and today they were rewarded for their effort and their excellence."
District 10 champs
Warren’s singles and doubles players that brought home a 3-2 District 10 championship over Fairview on Friday at the Pennbriar Club in Erie include, from left, Nick Tarpenning, Grayson Foley, Nathan Sandberg, Matt Sandberg, Shane Burns, Ylli Bakalli and Liam Boger.
Burns said that while the Dragons accomplished the same District 10 sweep as a season ago, this time around was a little sweeter because of the expectations coming into the year.
"This is awesome compared to last year," said Burns. "This is exactly what I wanted - a district sweep. Unlike last year, we had a lot of pressure on us to repeat and we pulled through. I couldn't ask for any more from my team."
Senior Matt Sandberg said that while having the singles and doubles titles in Warren was nice, the team title was the ultimate prize.
"This was definitely the goal at the start of the year," said Sandberg. "Of course, it is nice to get the singles and doubles titles, but the team title was the ultimate goal. We knew coming into the year that losing Thomas (Pellegrino) was significant, but we also knew we had seven solid players to fill our starting lineup."
Warren started the day by defeating Harbor Creek for the third time this season. This time around, the Dragons completed a 5-0 sweep. Burns, Matt Sandberg and Nathan Sandberg led the singles sweep with Burns beating Trevor Osborne 6-4, 6-2, Matt defeating his opponent, 6-3, 6-0 and Nate downing Hunter Kelly, 6-0, 6-0.
Grayson Foley and Nick Tarpenning earned a 6-4, 6-3 win at first doubles and Ylli Bakalli and Liam Boger were winners at second doubles, 6-4, 6-1.
The win over Harbor Creek and Fairview's win over Hickory set up a long awaited showdown between the Dragons and Tigers in the finals.
Matt Sandberg started the Warren winning with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Fairview's Andrew Levin at second singles. Younger brother Nate then followed with perhaps the biggest win of the afternoon, a 6-0, 6-3 win over D-10 Class AA singles finalist Ben Wescott.
"Nate Sandberg squared off with Ben Wescott who was a finalist in the D10 Singles Tournament on Wednesday," said Bartsch. "In that tournament, Wescott had defeated Nate thereby preventing an all-Warren Final. Today, Nate demonstrated his grit and determination with a dominant win over Wescott."
Burns locked up the D-10 title for Warren by claiming the Dragons' third victory of the day - a 6-3, 6-4 win over the Tigers' Jon Oskin.
The duos of Tarpenning and Foley and Bakalli and Boger were defeated in doubles play, but both matches needed three sets and Warren already had the team title locked up.
"Fairview is a quality team. They are well coached as were the other two teams in the championships," said Bartsch.
"I am very proud of this group of athletes. These guys are great competitors. And they are all champions. This includes our top man through our number 33 man. They have all worked hard and today they were rewarded for their dedication. They have done everything I have asked of them. They are now 14-0 on the season with a (D-10 title). It just doesn't get any better than this."
Warren returns to action at 1 p.m., Tuesday when it opens the PIAA Class AA Team Championships at Pennbriar Athletic Club in Erie. Opposing the Dragons will be District 7's Vincentian Academy. A Warren win would send the team to Hershey for the PIAA quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.