The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Danville Sports

April 4, 2012

High school tennis: Gruss leads Ironmen over Selinsgrove

DANVILLE — There was an important part of the Danville High School tennis team that was noticeably missing in the Ironmen’s season-opening loss to Selinsgrove. The squad’s No. 2 player to complete the lineup.

Kyle Gruss was in the lineup Wednesday in the opening match of the second half in the Heartland Conference and his presence was vital in helping the Ironmen (4-4) slip past the Seals (4-4), 3-2 at the Danville Middle School and judging by his dominating performance one can only wonder what might have happened in the team’s initial encounter with Selinsgrove to open the year but it was evident the second time around.

“As a team we are more organized at this point of the season than when we opened the year,” Danville coach Mary Jo Baum. “Today, we had a full lineup and Gruss’ performance gave us a huge lift.”

Steven Zhang got the home team off on the right track with a strong 6-0, 6-2 victory over the Seals’ Tyus Ludwig before Gruss displayed his talents by dominating Andrew Hayhurst 6-1, 6-0 to put the Ironmen in front, 2-0, setting up the all-important doubles match that would all but secure the much-needed victory.

“In our first meeting, they did not have a full lineup and were missing their No. 2 player,” Seals’ coach Duke Fravel said. “Today, I felt the final outcome would probably come down to the No. 1 doubles match. Unfortunately, this time around it was our lineup that was hurting somewhat. Our No. 3 player was out on the court for the first time in a week and our No. 2 guy was not 100 percent so I knew it was going to be tougher with them this time.”

Danville was able to secure the win that evened its season record as the duo of Jeff Hauck and Jonathan Wall dispatched Ryan Lester and Safwan Khan, 6-1, 6-3, assuring the Ironmen of the victory regardless of the outcome of the two remaining matches.

“Having Gruss in the lineup was big,” Baum said. “He certainly made a difference.”

Brady Fries provided the Seals with their lone win in singles play topping freshman Chris Zhang, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, while in doubles action Selinsgrove’s team of Theron Fravel and Rob Smith beat Zach Raker and David Gilliam, 6-2, 6-1.

“Hopefully, we could meet again should we both advance to district play,” Fravel said. “Jersey Shore and Williamsport are the top teams in our division but we need to win four of our next nine matches to qualify for the postseason and I feel it’s do-able.”

Despite losing in singles play Chris Zhang has been a consistent performer for the Ironmen and a plus for the program according to Baum, who sees plenty of potential in the first-year player.

“Chris is new to the program but has been very consistent for his ability level,” Baum said. “He shows an enthusiasm to improve and has worked hard on developing what he needs to be a better tennis player.”

Danville returns to the court Monday at home against Williamsport.

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