Section title within reach for Derry tennis
TribLIVE Sports Videos
As cold weather rolls in and fall sports are nearing their end, it's time for coaches and players to start thinking about the postseason and contending for championships.
But members of the undefeated varsity girls Derry tennis team refuse to mention their goal out loud.
“We don't want to jinx it, in a way, if we talk about it,” said senior Lauren Campbell about winning the section title. “We all want it. We just don't talk about it.”
However, after seven years of coaching, coach Tom Tatone isn't afraid to say it.
“It's in their minds now that the playoffs are a definite possibility and the section title is out there for the taking,” he said.
Entering this week, the Derry tennis team was 9-0 in Section 1-AA play and will be playing nonsection games against Norwin, Hempfield and Greensburg Central Catholic at the tail of the season.
“We're doing really well,” Tatone said. “We have a lot of seniors on the team, and they've been playing for a few years.”
Derry returned the majority of its starting lineup from last year, only replacing graduate Tessa Hirczik with Hunter Hudson in a No. 2 doubles spot. Hudson is paired with senior Jill Orazio.
“It's been really nice because I've seen how they've played for a few years now,” Tatone said. “It's more of guiding them to a goal that they have right now.”
Derry has seven returning seniors, with Felicia Pawlik leading the lineup at No. 1 singles for the second year in a row. Pawlik made her mark when she finished second at the Section 1-AA singles tournament earlier this month at Mt. Pleasant High School and qualified for the WPIAL tournament. She was only the third singles player to qualify in school history, joining Jenny Miron (1981) and Cathy Livingston (1986).
Last week at the WPIAL tournament, Pawlik fell to Sewickley Academy's Samantha Gohh, 10-2, in the first round.
“I've been the coach for seven years now and we've been able to get a couple doubles teams into the WPIAL tournament, but singles is very difficult,” Tatone said. “There is a lot of tough competition; a lot of elite players have been out there. It's tough to be in the best three in the whole section.”
Pawlik came close to winning the section title but fell to GCC freshman phenom Alyvia Kluska, 6-0, 6-2. She said the support of her teammates was crucial to her success.
“We thought it would be nice to have support there for her and we're her best friends,” said senior Breana Liberoni, who plays No. 2 singles. “We are all really close, and it shows on the court, too. We're always pumping each other up, even in the middle of points. We come off the court and everyone is there to give you hugs. It's nice knowing there are so many people there for you.”
Derry has had some setbacks this season, but the Trojans' depth and determination has allowed them to persevere through injuries to Pawlik, Orazio and Laura Kowalik.
“Luckily none of the injuries have been serious, but they are nagging injuries,” Tatone said.
Brittany Goncar is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman dies in fall at McConnells Mill State Park
- Ex-Pirate Tekulve: PNC Park reception ‘unbelievable’
- Jaguars’ Bortles much like Roethlisberger, except for lack of wins
- Steelers pressing to create opportunities to get to quarterback
- Pitt tries to toughen up defense
- Hempfield’s Holmberg selects PSU
- Redshirt freshman WR Hamilton blossoms for Penn State
- WPIAL board to again hear Aloi appeal
- Gorman: Morgan has Mustangs making Plum proud
- Jeannette, Clairton set to square off with conference lead on the line
- Actress takes on Williams’ classic character in ‘Glass Menagerie’