Sandberg, Auzou finish second in D10 doubles

ERIE – The top-seeded Dragon pair of junior Nate Sandberg and senior exchange student Ben Auzou finished second at Wednesdays’ District 10 Class AA Doubles Championships at Pennbriar Club.

The Dragons started their trek to the finals with a hard-fought battle with Fairview’s No. 2 team of Dan Pakulski and Mike Siegel.

“This was a good battle as the Dragons had spurts of solid play, but also had a lot of passive points inviting their opponents to get back into the match,” said Warren coach Jeff Bartsch. “With just one break of the opponents’ serve, the Dragons prevailed by an important 8-6 margin of victory.”

In the quarterfinals, the Dragons took on eighth-seeded Kennedy Catholic with Nickolo Lima and Jesse Kirila. “A bit more relaxed,” the Dragons won by a big 8-1 margin to put them in the semifinals.

The semis saw the Dragons have a great battle with Alex Schroeck and Ryan Campbell of Mercyhurst Prep. “Nate and Ben hit some good serves and finally got the service break and took control of the set to take a 9-7 lead,” said Bartsch. “With Nate serving, Ben hit a couple of great overheads and the match was ours.”

In the finals, the Dragons squared off with nemesis Fairview I.

“The Dragons have faced Fairview in the doubles finals for the past six years,” said Bartsch. “When we go to D10, we expect to play Fairview, and today was no disappointment.”

With long rallies in the beginning of the match, both teams traded games and Fairview (Ben Westcott and Austin Fielder) took a 4-3 lead. At this point, the wheels came off and the Dragons fell 3-6, 0-6 to enable Fairview to win the AA doubles title, their first in the past three years.

While the junior Sandberg won a D10 doubles title last year with his since-graduated brother, Matt, he said “for the most part we did play well.”

Finishing second at the singles and doubles championships, Sandberg said the focus is now on Friday’s D10 Team Championships – with a possible finals match-up against Fairview, again.

The last week has taught him to “just never give up,” said Sandberg. “Once you’re down, you just have to pick yourself back up.”

The other Dragon pair of junior Bryce Bauer and sophomore Noah Colvin knocked off the top team from Sharon, 8-2.

In the quarterfinals, the Dragons took on the pair of Harbor Creek I, which was seeded fourth for the event.

“Noah and Bryce played well in the beginning of the match and took a 2-1 lead, but then Harbor Creek hit some good shots and ended up winning the match, 8-3,” said Bartsch. “This was a good run for this pair. Both have solid futures as Dragon doubles specialists.”