Patrick Pascual and Ryan Schweitzer were happy to step up.
The Spring-Ford sophomore and junior entered the boys tennis season by taking a step up the team's ladder, Pascual moving from No. 2 to No. 1 singles and Schweitzer from No. 3 to No. 2.
Pascual and Schweitzer were happy to step up Thursday as well, both rolling to straight set victories to lead Spring-Ford to a 5-2 victory over fellow title hopeful Perkiomen Valley on the Rams' home court.
"Before the match we felt it was a very important,' Pascual said. "It's a PAC-10 match, we know how good PV is, and we just told each other to focus and concentrate out there. I told my teammates to fight — fight for every point, and that's what we did out there.'
Pascual used his consistent groundstrokes to take care of Perkiomen Valley's top player Luke Pain, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles. Schweitzer played well in all phases to earn a 6-2, 6-2 win over the Vikings' Yashveer Singh at No. 2.
Spring-Ford's No. 3 doubles tandem of John Fazzini and Kevin Yun topped PV's Sanjay Kalidindi and Mavlin Patel, 7-5, 6-1, and the No. 4 doubles duo of Cameron Trager and Todd Unger topped the Vikings' Brad Dickerman and Mike Venezia, 6-1, 7-6 (4), to clinch the match win with three matches still on court.
Perkiomen Valley's Jordan Pavlow and Dan Kershner got their team on the board with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Spring-Ford's Zach Collier and Luke Emerson at No. 2 doubles while the Vikings' other win came at No. 1 doubles thanks to Alex Dove and Evan Newbill downing Mike Griswold and Matt Yerkes, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.
TJ Cruickshank punctuated the Rams' win with a tight 7-5, 7-6 (6) victory over Shaan Kewalramani at No. 3 singles for a singles sweep.
It was a crucial win for the reigning PAC-10 champion Rams (4-0 PAC-10), who have now defeated perennial contenders Phoenixville and Perk Valley (3-1 PAC-10) and are yet to play Methacton (Thursday, April 24).
"This is probably going to be our hardest match this year,' Schweitzer said. "It's a team effort coming into it and we try to keep each other positive through the entire matches and hopefully come out with four (wins).'
The left-handed Schweitzer has impressed in every PAC-10 match this season and managed to top Singh, who was Perk Valley's No. 1 player a year ago, in straight sets using an all-court game, including ably volleying at net, a trait all but lost in today's baseline-dominated play in high school tennis. Even if that wasn't what he set out to do.
"That isn't really my style of play. I usually don't come to the net; I'm usually a baseline hitter. But he brought me up to the next and I executed my volleys,' Schweitzer said.
The move from No. 3 to No. 2 has been one Schweitzer has relished.
"I knew I would have to play a lot better because I would be playing against more experienced players this year. I like the challenge now, it allows me to use my skills against better players,' he said.
The same can be said for Pascual, who last year played No. 2 behind Joey Graziadei but still managed to reach the semifinals of the Pioneer Athletic Conference Singles Tournament. The then-freshman pushed eventual champion Justin Baman of Methacton three sets (3-6, 6-3, 6-1) and went on to finish in third place and make the District 1-AAA Tournament.
"I would love to win the PAC-10 title, coming so close last year losing to Baman in three sets,' Pascual said. "I would love to win it this year. I'm excited and looking forward to it. I'm ready to fight for that title and for districts.'
After Pascual used his consistent approach to take the first set 6-1 and open up a 3-0 lead in the second set, Pain, a fellow sophomore who also made the move from No. 2 to No. 1 this season, had his best stretch to break Pascual's serve and get it back to 3-2. But the Rams' top player rattled off the next three games to close it out.
"After the first set I felt more comfortable on the court,' Pascual said. "There was a little bit of a slip there when he broke me (early in the second set) but I managed to remain calm and get myself back in the match. He seemed frustrated and I took advantage of that and I came out with the win.'
The significance of being the top player for the defending league champions, in just his second year no less, isn't lost on Pascual.
"It's always an honor to be No. 1 in the school especially when a lot of your teammates look up to you,' he said. "I guess there's a little pressure in that but you have to enjoy the experience and enjoy the time with your teammates. The support of the team makes it feel good and special.'
Follow Austin Hertzog on Twitter @AustinHertzog