Panthers blank Pats, 6-0

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The Pilgrim Patriots were blanked by the Johnston Panthers 6-0 in Division III boys tennis on Tuesday afternoon at Pilgrim High School.

Pats senior Justin Walker was overpowered by Panthers junior Josh Brien 6-3, 6-3 during the No. 1 singles match.

Pilgrim head coach Daniel Robinson explained that while it is only Walker’s second season playing high school tennis, the senior is the top player on this year’s squad.

“He played (No. 4) singles last year, and this year he’s playing 1 singles,” Robinson explained. “Justin’s been playing well all year. He’s playing against some really good competition.”

“He’s won two matches so far this year,” Robinson said. “He’s hitting a lot of good shots. It’s just with it being just his second year of high school tennis, he’s still going through the growing pains of learning how to play in that competitive-type match. But, he’s good. He’s got a good forehand, good backhand, and a good serve. And he’s a good kid. He’s here every practice, he’s working with the team and that’s most important.”

Next, in the No. 2 singles bout, Pilgrim’s Antonio Riccio, a junior, fell to Johnston senior Nick Gallo 6-2, 6-2.

Riccio faced some stiff competition because Pilgrim was missing a couple of players.

“He normally plays 4 singles, but because of today he had to move up to 2 singles,” Robinson said. “So, competition was a little bit more than he could handle, but he gave him a good fight. So 6-2, 6-2 is respectable.”

Riccio is one of Robinson’s four-year players.

“He’s been on the team since he’s been a freshman,” Robinson said. “And the growth that I’ve seen in Antonio from his freshman year to now, his junior year, has been incredible. Another kid that comes to practice every day. He’s always willing and ready to learn.”

“And that goes for all of them,” Robinson added. “They’re easily coachable.”

During the No. 3 singles contest, Pilgrim freshman Alex Ferolito fell to junior Joel Aubin 6-1, 6-2.

Lastly, Pilgrim senior Brandon Major lost to Evan Zanni, also a senior, 6-0, 6-3 during the No. 4 singles match.

Johnston’s Connor Agnew and Zach Zambarano won the No.1 doubles match by forfeit while Seth Reth and Greg Manni also triumphed by forfeit for the Panthers during the No. 2 doubles match.

Neither team had enough players to play a third doubles match.

Pilgrim drops to 0-9 on the season while the Panthers improve to 3-7.

The Pats hosted Burrillville on Wednesday, but the score was unavailable at press time. Pilgrim plays next at Providence Country Day at 4 p.m. on Monday.

Although the Pats have yet to win a game this year, a fair share of contests have been tight.

“At the beginning of the season, we played the completion that we had very close,” Robinson explained. “We lost to Central 3-2. We played Cranston East really hard. We lost to them 5-2, but we very well could have beat them 4-3. And we lost to Woonsocket 5-2.”

“So, they have held their own,” Robinson said. “They’re warriors. I can never question their effort. They’re always battling, learning, and improving. There is definite growth that we’ve had over the season, and as long as I am seeing them growing and learning the game, it’s a successful season.”

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