Clark brothers bolster lineup for Gateway tennis

Apr. 11—David Clark loves the competition on the tennis court with twin brother, Nathan.

Nathan is the No. 1 singles player for the Gateway boys tennis team, but David is not far behind at No. 2.

“It’s definitely competitive, but it drives us,” said David Clark, who wrestled for the Gators in the winter while Nathan was a key member of the bowling team. “We’re always out here playing and competing. He has a slight edge on me, which makes it fun. We are similar levels, so we are able to play, have fun and also critique each other and help each other out.”

The seniors pace a Gateway team that 12th-year coach Rochelle Seilhamer said has given good effort in working to improve since the start of preseason practices March 8 through six dual matches.

Gateway got in one scrimmage last year before its season was suspended and ultimately canceled by the PIAA over rising covid pandemic concerns.

“The boys were all happy to get back to playing this season and so was I,” Seilhamer said. “We just have had to go through these special circumstances and do what the school tells us. We had a first-day practice and then they shut us down for the week because of the covid, so we had to start all over again. We worked to get in as many practices as possible, but the kids dealt with it, and as long as they are out there enjoying themselves and playing the game, that is a good thing.”

The Clarks and the No. 1 doubles combination of senior Ryan Tandoc and junior Adam Almoukamal are holdovers from the 2019 Gateway team.

Tandoc is pulling double duty this spring as he also is a member of the Gateway boys volleyball team.

“We always check to see what is going on with volleyball, too, and he has worked hard to balance both,” Seilhamer said. “It’s something he really wants to do.”

Seilhamer said freshman Matt Bandos had made an impact in his varsity debut.

“He has great potential at this (varsity) level,” she said. “He’s really dedicated to the game. He’s started training now with Rashid (Hassan) at his (Elite Tennis) academy.”

Junior John Falbelli and freshman Zane Almoukamal are among those who have contended for varsity time at doubles. The duo teamed up at No. 2 doubles against Kiski Area on April 6.

The Cavaliers got the better of the Gators, 3-2.

Gateway found itself in a battle for a playoff spot in 2019 as it hoped to reach the postseason for the first time since 2009.

However, Franklin Regional, Penn-Trafford, Hempfield and Latrobe picked up the four playoff berths from the section.

The 2021 Gateway squad now is 2-3 in Section 1-AAA play after the loss to Kiski Area. Nathan Clark (No. 1 singles) and Bandos (No. 3 singles) posted victories.

Bandos swept his match on the strength of a second-set tiebreaker.

It was a tough loss in section for a team battling to stay in contention for a

WPIAL playoff spot. The top four teams from each of the four Class AAA sections advance to the team tournament.

The Gators topped Connellsville and Hempfield, 4-1, last month and fell to WPIAL favorite Franklin Regional, 5-0.

Norwin edged Gateway, 3-2, in the season opener March 22. Nathan Clark and Bandos picked up wins for Gateway. David Clark battled in his match at No. 2 singles before falling 6-4, 6-4.

The Gators were to host Latrobe on Monday in a section match that was to be contested past this week’s deadline. Gateway travels to Penn-Trafford on Thursday to conclude section play.

The Clark brothers also represented Gateway at the Section 1 singles tournament at Franklin Regional April 7. Nathan Clark was upended by Latrobe’s August Lawrence, 10-7, in the first round, while David Clark fell in a first-round match, 10-2, to Franklin Regional’s Shrey Ramesh.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .