D-10 TENNIS: Oh, brother: Sandberg Sensation: Matt, Nathan Sandberg win D-10 Doubles title

ERIE – You can call it “Sandberg Sensation” and it’s sweeping the nation.

Or at least the world of District 10 tennis.

Warren’s brother combo of senior Matt Sandberg and sophomore Nathan Sandberg stormed past all comers Wednesday, capturing the District 10 Class AA Doubles Tennis title at the Pennbriar Raquet Club in Erie.

The title is the second D-10 doubles crown for Matt who won his first title with Thomas Pellegrino a season ago and the first for Nathan.

While Matt will always cherish his win with Pellegrino during his junior season, he said that the title win with his brother will always hold a little added significance.

“They’re both pretty special, but he’s my brother,” said Matt. “How much sweeter can it get? It’s pretty awesome to go out there and win this title with him.”

Matt added that his immediate reaction to winning the title was quite similar to last year – with one major difference.

“I let out the same emotion and the same hug as last year with Thomas,” said Matt. “But the hug was definitely a little tighter this year. I was really just kind of speechless. It’s just feels so good and means so much to the both of us.”

Knowing that this was Matt’s last crack at a D-10 doubles crown, Nathan said he could’ve been nervous at the task of doing his part to help his brother come out on top. Instead, he felt complete calm and trusted in he and his brother’s abilities.

“We were comfortable on the court,” said Nathan. “He’s the quicker one so I let him take a lot of the overheads and I would stay back and just keep things consistent. We know each others strengths and abilities so well so things just flowed together really well.”

Like Matt, Nathan was left speechless upon realizing what he and his brother had accomplished.

“There’s really no words,” said Nathan. “I didn’t know how to react (after the win). It’s such an incredible feeling.”

Matt added that he and his brother weren’t just playing for themselves on Wednesday. Like teammate Shane Burns after his D-10 Singles win on Monday, Matt dedicated the win to classmate Paula Southwell who was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday.

He also said that he and his brother wouldn’t be where they are without the support of their parents, Tim and Marlene.

“They have supported us in everything we do,” said Matt. “We couldn’t ask for a better set of parents or a better set of role models.”

Matt and Nathan, the top seeds in the tournament, started the day with a pair of dominant wins over competition from Harbor Creek (8-0) and Hickory (8-1). That put the Sandbergs in the semifinals against a Greenville team featuring standout Chad Ferguson.

“Our boys worked the ball away from Ferguson and minimized his influence in that match,” said Warren coach Jeff Bartsch. “The Sandberg brothers came to net every point and hit great volleys and big overheads to win the match by a 10-4 margin.”

In the finals, Matt and Nathan squared off with the Fairview duo of Jon Oskin and Ben Wescott, ultimately defeating them by a 6-2, 6-3 count.

“We started a little slowly, but then the boys began to open up and attack the net each point,” said Bartsch. “Nate served perfectly and Matt hit multiple overhead winners with precision and power.”

Bartsch said the Sandbergs were not the first brother combo to win a D-10 title, but were the first to win in “many years.”

Bartsch was extremely pleased with what his pair of brothers accomplished on Wednesday.

“This is a very special accomplishment for the brothers,” said Bartsch. “They will always have this championship the rest of their lives. They both have great work ethics, both have great athleticism and they are both intelligent students of the game. Both love to compete and today, they won this championship together.”

Matt and Nathan will join Burns at the PIAA Singles and Doubles Championships scheduled for May 24 in Hershey.

In addition to Matt and Nathan, the Warren duo of Grayson Foley and Nick Tarpenning were also in competition on Wednesday. Foley and Tarpenning were seeded fourth and opened the day with a close 8-6 win over Harbor Creek’s top ranked team.

However, the pair of Dragons would ultimately drop a close match later in the night, falling to a Mercyhurst Prep duo by a 9-7 count. They came within two wins of making it an all-Warren final.

Next up for Burns, the Sandbergs and the rest of the Warren tennis team are the District 10 Class AA Team Championships scheduled for Friday at Pennbriar. The Dragons are the defending champions of the tournament, having knocked off Fairview in 2012. The Dragons open play at 9 a.m., facing Harbor Creek in the semifinals.

Warren defeated the Huskies twice during the regular season. Fairview and Hickory meet in the other semifinal with the winners meeting in the championship later in the day.