By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
WILKES-BARRE – Brothers Tucker and Kyle Chesman led Dallas to a pair of boys tennis team championships – so far.
Now, they will pursue championships as a doubles team. The District 2 doubles tournament begins Friday morning.
Sophomore Tucker and freshman Kyle are the top singles players for the unbeaten Mountaineers, who have won Wyoming Valley Conference and District 2 titles and are about to embark on a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 2A state title pursuit with Tuesday’s first round.
The Chesmans passed up chasing a potential title in the singles tournament, which was completed earlier this week, to take a shot at district, and possibly, state honors in doubles.
“Kyle, my Dad (Spencer), coach (Joe Pugliese) and I discussed it,” Tucker Chesman said after the district team final. “We could have sent Kyle to singles. We talked it over and decided that’s what we want to do.”
The brothers sat out the singles tournament where Tucker was a district finalist last year as a freshman.
District singles champions become ineligible for district and, subsequently state doubles play.
“Say Kyle went and won singles, then we’re broken up,” Tucker said. “We thought the brother combination was a lot cooler and we think we could make some noise at states.”
The Chesman brothers have been out of the Dallas lineup on occasion this season, both to spend time in Florida where the Homeschooled students get in additional tennis training, and to at times allow teammates more playing opportunities on a Mountaineers squad that has yielded one team point all season.
“Tucker and Kyle have been really good about sitting out against weaker teams to allow the other kids to come up and gain experience,” Pugliese said. “They were here for seven out of the nine (WVC) matches.”
Tucker Chesman is 8-0 in WVC and district play. He played at No. 1 singles twice, including a 6-1, 6-2 victory over District 2 Class 3A runner-up Michael Hamel of Wilkes-Barre Area. He won his other four WVC matches, 6-0, 6-0, and lost just one game in six sets during the district team tournament.
While Tucker Chesman has won 96 of 100 games he played this season, Kyle Chesman has won 83 of his 84 games, going 6-0 and putting himself within a game of a seventh win when a district match was halted with the team outcome decided.
Doubles tennis, however, will be new to the brothers as teammates.
“I’ve played with Kyle in doubles at practice a lot, but never in a tournament,” Tucker said. “Recently, at the Dallas courts, we’ve been playing almost all doubles. We’ve been getting a lot of practice, getting the chemistry going.”
They will try to match different skill sets.
“I’m more of a heavy hitter,” Tucker said. “Kyle’s more consistent and Kyle’s definitely way better at the net.”
The Chesmans, who train at Altitude Academies at Club Med Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie, are seeded first in Class 2A, which begins Friday at 9 a.m. at Kirby Park. Class 3A starts at the same time on the nearby Wilkes University Courts.
Sam Christman and Luke Morgan from Abington Heights are the top seeds in Class 3A where the Comets will try to make it a sweep of titles after winning team championships and having Praneel Mullaiah take the singles title.
After the Chesmans, the remaining Class 2A seeds are: second, Luke Kotcho, Liam Harrison, Valley View; third, Jason Joshi-Lucas Carver, Dallas; fourth, Ethan Borick-Gianluca Argenio, Scranton Prep; fifth, Zak Keiser-Aiden Edwards, Tunkhannock; sixth, Vaughn Kutish-Jeremy Han, Wyoming Seminary.
The remaining Class 3A seeds are: second, Michael Hamel-Stanley Shimko, Wilkes-Barre Area; third, Dominic Peters-Ryan Salony, Abington Heights; fourth, Patrick Cawley-Fred Kloss, North Pocono; 5, Anthony Marie-Sam Filip, Wallenpaupack; sixth, Brendan Turowski-Dylan Smith, Berwick.
The doubles tournament went through schedule changing to maneuver around potential weather issues and the start of state play.
Originally set for Saturday, with Class 3A playing at North Pocono, the first day was instead moved up to Friday with 3A at Wilkes.
Action will continue until the four semifinalist teams are determined in each bracket.
The completion of the tournament, originally set for Monday, has been moved to Wednesday at Kirby Park with semifinals at 1 p.m, followed by finals.
Dallas and Abington Heights begin the state team tournament Tuesday at Birchwood Tennis & Fitness Center in Clarks Summit. Dallas faces District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic at 10:30 a.m. and Abington Heights meets Unionville, the third-place team from District 1, at 12:30 p.m.