He may just be in eighth grade, but Harry Wang isn’t afraid of the big stage.
The 13-year-old Casey Middle School student breezed through the Section VI field on his way to a championship before an estimated 100 fans at Lancaster High School on Wednesday. Wang used his quick feet and precisely placed serve and forehand to beat senior and returning sectional finalist Mike Rusk of Williamsville East, 6-2, 6-0, in the finals.
“I lost in the second round last year” to eventual champion Mike Kranz, “so I really wanted to win it this time around,” said Wang, who is unbeaten on the season and will attend Williamsville North in the fall. “In the offseason I hit a lot, worked out a little and improved my speed, forehand and serve. Last year it would have been tough for me because I wasn’t nearly as fast. This is really fun and it means a lot to me to win this title.”
Wang, Rusk and Williamsville South junior Joe Bartoli advance to next week’s New York State Championships at the USTA Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. While Wang is looking forward to getting his first crack at the state’s top players at the site of the U.S. Open, Rusk has big plans, too.
“I’m more excited for the Subway Series in baseball,” joked the Hobart College-bound Rusk, who lost in the second round of the state tournament last year.
Advancing to states in doubles were August Bruno/Tommy Baldinger of Orchard Park, John and Andrew Lemar of North Tonawanda and Tony Podgorsak/Aaron Broardt of Williamsville South. The ECIC champions from OP won the championship match, 6-4, 6-2, over the NFL champion Lemar brothers.
Bruno will be making his second consecutive trip to states after playing with Sawyer Dina last spring. That tandem, though, was sectional runners-up.
“They’re both great players and friends, but obviously it’s even nicer when you win,” Bruno said, while comparing partners. “I’ve known Tommy for a long time and I think we’re a little closer. We’ve got something special going.”
Quakers coach Mike Graffeo added: “We talk about doubles being a shootout and today we definitely fired the most shots. If we play the way we did today next week in New York we’ll be very happy.”