Fox Chapel freshmen seek doubles title
Laurel Shymansky and Lacey Cohen have been playing tennis together since grade school.
Thing is, that wasn't too long ago.
The rising players from Fox Chapel are only freshmen, but they are playing with the vigor and smarts of upperclassmen.
The duo will begin their chase for a WPIAL Class AAA doubles title starting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Norwin. They won the Section 3-AAA title a week ago, blanking Shady Side Academy's Emma Perelman and Lindsey Miller, 6-0, 6-0, in the final.
Two weeks earlier, they played each other for the Section 3-AAA singles title. Shymansky won, 6-3, 6-0.
“We're so used to playing each other, that was just another match,” Shymansky said.
Said Cohen: “We're friends on and off the court. It was tough being opponents like that.”
It isn't unusual for Fox Chapel to have success in tennis; it's practically expected. But for players at such a young age to win this early, that has to be somewhat of a surprise, right?
“Their success is no surprise,” Fox Chapel coach Alex Slezak said. “They have put in the hours training for years and are seeing the fruits of their labor. Wins such as the section singles and doubles championship build lasting confidence.”
Slezak knows this will be a learning year for Shymansky and Cohen, but expectations will grow.
“They have established themselves as contenders in the WPIAL,” Slezak said. “In the years ahead, they are going to be favorites in their matches. Learning to deal with the burden of pressure and winning is critical to their continued development. Next year I plan on talking a lot to them both about how pressure is a privilege, meaning they can only play with this pressure because they have prepared properly with their training.”
Shymansky said jumping out to early leads is a key in tournament play. That, and not relenting.
“We have to be more aggressive at the net,” she said. “The first two rounds are pro sets to 10. We have to stay aggressive.”
Cohen said the most formidable duos in the tournament are Kylie Issacs and Maddie Adams of North Allegheny, Nicole Cyterski and Megan Wasson of Oakland Catholic and Sarah Komer and Abby Cummings of Peters Township.
“There are a lot of very good teams,” Cohen said. “If we play our game and establish ourselves as big hitters at the net, hopefully we can come out on top.”
Shymansky and Cohen open against Alyza Madson and Charlotte Madson of Upper St. Clair.
The final and consolation final will be 2 p.m. Friday at North Allegheny. The top three teams advance to the PIAA championships Nov. 2-3 at Hershey Racquet Club.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.