PHOENIXVILLE — Falling to Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford to start the year, people in the know were not fooled by Phoenixville's lackluster start.
Longtime coach Leo Scoda, who has been at the helm at Phoenixville for a staggering 51 years, has a new-look lineup that has not had much time to blend together yet, especially with the snow and other weather elements that confronted spring teams as they began workouts.
Count Boyertown coach Dave Burkert among those who knew, even going into Tuesday's PAC-10 match at Phoenixville, that the Phantoms still have some quality players in their lineup this spring. And he felt even stronger about that opinion following Phoenixville's 7-0 victory over Boyertown at the Leo J. Scoda Tennis Courts.
The Phantoms (1-2, 2-2) swept past the inexperienced and thin Bears, winning all seven varsity matches in straight sets. Junior Luke Lombardi, senior Bobby Newman and junior Nick Vaile posted singles victories for the Phantoms to set the tone against the Bears (1-2, 1-2).
"I moved up from second singles to first singles this year,' said Lombardi, who defeated junior David Herring 6-2, 6-3 at first singles. "It's been different playing more advanced players. It is harder to adjust, I guess. It has also been early in the season with cold weather. Our matches were windy and cold. We lost our big three with Ryan (Cadigan), Chris (Walsh) and Jeff (Potts) so it has been an adjustment for our whole team pretty much.'
At second singles, Newman stopped Chris Mertz 6-1, 6-4. At the third singles spot, Vaile beat junior Phil Huber 6-0, 6-4.
Lombardi also did not spend an extensive amount of time concentrating on tennis during the offseason so that is another reason it has taken him some extra time to round into form this year.
"I am trying to get back into it,' said Lombardi, who has been a varsity player under Scoda for three years.
He played third doubles as a freshman before sliding into the singles alignment a year ago.
Phoenixville took the first game in the first set of all but one of the varsity matches to help take control early.
"It was a disadvantage for us to play Spring-Ford and Perk Valley in the early part of the season,' said Scoda. "They have a good part of their lineup back, but we played them tough. What's nice about this team is we have a large number of juniors who will be back next year and some other underclassmen who will be moving into the lineup. We will have experienced kids next year. We will have a nice nucleus next year.'
At first doubles, the Phantoms' Ben McKeon, a senior, and Austin Starczewski, a junior, defeated Kyle Dennin and Chris Smith 6-3, 6-1.
Seniors Andy Peterson and Matt Fabius won a 6-3, 6-0 decision over the Bears' Joe Genuario and Dom Genuario at second doubles.
In the third doubles match, juniors Mike Pinelli and Dave Nascari made quick work of Matt Bowen and Sam Fox, winning by 6-1, 6-2 scores.
The fourth doubles match saw senior Jim Trainer and freshman Chris Lehning win a 6-0, 6-2 affair against Derek Hukari and Connor Cordero.
Burkert realized the scenario for his Bears, even against one of Phoenixville's lesser experienced crews.
"We have a pretty young team,' said Burkert. "We only have 18 players, and 12 of them are first-year players. They are 18 really good guys so far. I love coaching them. But they are learning on the job. They are working hard and playing hard and practice hard. They are great kids. I am really happy with them. Today we lost 7-0, but I thought we played well. Some of them are playing the first couple matches of their life and they get thrown in against (traditional powerhouse) Phoenixville. They are getting beat but they are learning. They have great attitudes. I couldn't ask for more.'
Burkert is also one of the PAC-10's more experienced boys tennis coaches. He is in his 18th year as head coach at Boyertown and 24th year overall as a tennis coach.