By Levi Trimble email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — NORTH TONAWANDA — The Nick and Niko show reigned supreme Friday as Kenmore West defeated Grand Island for the NFL doubles championship at the North Tonawanda Sportsplex Friday.
The team of Nick Atallah and Niko Mancuso defeated Tommy Barrao and Wyatt Mock of Grand Island, 6-0, 6-3.
“It was great, I have been here two times before and lost in the first round each time,” said Mancuso. “To go ut there and win it all is unbelieveable. It’s all I wanted to do for the last three years”
The final match was one of many exciting matches that demonstrated the high level of talent the tightly-contested NFL has to offer.
The eight-team tournament highlighted teams from every NFL school.
Top seeded Mancuso and Atallah started by making quick work of James Spanbauer and Mike Gibas, 6-1, 6-2.
Corrao and Mock, seeded second, matched the Blue Devils’ pace, defeating Frank Wozniak and Sam Tulipane of Kenmore East, 6-1, 6-2.
Action heated up between the middle seeds as six seed team from Lockport, J.J. Napoli and Bailey Reed, upset the third seed Niagara-Wheatfield team of Joe Lebold and Austin Hayes, 6-4, 6-4.
One of the more entertaining matches of the tournament came in the three-set marathon match between seventh grader Gregg Hastings and Joe Piotrowski of North Tonawanda and Sean Richardson and Jake Warren of Lewiston-Porter.
The fourth seeded Lumberjacks won the first set over the Lancers, 6-4. Richardson and Warren, of the Lancers team that clinched its first NFL title since 1978 Wednesday, battled through the second set to force a tiebreaker. Piotrowski played hard at the net and Hastings controlled the baseline, but Richardson and Warren’s teamwork shined through, leading to a 7-6 (7) win over the Lumberjacks.
The marathon inspired both sides, but Lew-Port fell in the third set to the higher-seeded Lumberjacks, 6-2.
Atallah and Mancuso stayed true to form in the semifinals, defeating Hastings and Piotrowski, 6-3, 6-4. Hastings and Piotrowski showed a high level of skill, but were overpowered by the quick play of Mancuso and Atallah.
Lockport and Grand Island had a marathon match fo their own, showing skilled ground strokes and strong play at the net.
Reid and Napoli took the first set 6-2. Grand Island answered right back, shutting down the Lions with a 6-1 set victory.
Lockport would not go away silently. The teams battled back and forth eventually leading to a 6-6 tie in the set. Reid and Napoli fell behind early in the tiebreaker 3-2 as Corrao showed quick reflexes as he volleyed shots at the net. If it slipped by Corrao, Mock would pick it up at the baseline.
After a hard-fought, Grand Island came out on top 7-6 (3).
After a 30-minute break, the two remaining teams jogged on to the court for the final match. The quick turnaround of play halted neither team’s play.
Mancuso and Atallah planned their strategy flawlessly, dividing the court vertically with both teammates staying back near the baseline, charging in on one side when the opposition played a drop shot.
“The whole game they had outstanding doubles strategy,” said Kenmore West coach Lisa Siegal. “Their chemistry today was just amazing. They played a total perfect day.”
The Blue Devils took the first three games with relative ease, earning their points through tough net play, hitting the corners and playing one step ahead of their opponents.
The fourth game was the most exciting single game of the tournament. With Atallah serving, Corrao and Mock fought tooth and nail to earn their points. Mock stayed stationary at the net, connecting with any ball hit within his reach.
Not to be outdone, Atallah put his body on the line, diving for balls that seemed just out of reach and charging full-sprint into the netting that divided the adjacent court.
Mock and Corrao answered every point with a great shot of their own, leading to a 40-40 deuce.
Mancuso and Atallah would get the advantage by hitting a perfectly placed shot on the back corner or splitting the defenders with a superbly timed smash.
But, Mock and Corrao kept answering, even getting three advantages of their own. The teams played 12 straight deuces until Ken-West managed to string two points together for the win.
Mancuso and Atallah won the first set 6-0, though the game was much more competitive than the score showed. Nearly every game came to a deuce.
In the second set, Grand Island quickly took the the first game. The Vikings started to build momentum but were dashed when Ken-West took the second game.
The teams traded games back and forth over the next three games. Down 2-3, Mancuso and Atallah kicked it into overdrive, taking the next four games to be crowned champions.
Both Grand Island and Kenmore West teams qualified for the Section VI doubles tournament in Lancaster. The tournament will take place Tuesday at 3 p.m.
“It feels great to get the win,” said Atallah. “I went to sectionals last year and it’s good to be going back with Niko.”