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Shady Side Academy graduate returning home with Cornell tennis team

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Former Shady Side Academy tennis player Sara Perelman
Former Shady Side Academy tennis player Sara Perelman Submitted
Former Shady Side Academy tennis player Sara Perelman
Former Shady Side Academy tennis player Sara Perelman Submitted

Shady Side Academy graduate Sara Perelman plans to play tour guide when she and fellow members of the Cornell University women's tennis team are in the area for dual matches against Pitt on March 9 and Duquesne on March 10.

“It will be our first time playing in Pittsburgh,” said Perelman, a 5-foot-4 sophomore from Squirrel Hill and the only player from Pennsylvania on the Big Red roster. “I'm excited to show everyone around.”

Winless in her only match so far, Perelman, 19, is battling to play fifth and sixth singles for a Cornell team that was 1-6 in the Ivy League a year ago.

“With a strong recruiting class, there is more competition,” Cornell coach Mike Stevens said.

Perelman was 6-8 playing in the bottom two spots of the order last season.

In doubles competition, she fared much better (12-5).

“Sara is a great team player,” Stevens said. “She's has a great serve, a strong net game and works very hard.

“She is a joy to have.”

Perlman was one of 12 college players, including two from Pennsylvania, named to a team that will represent America at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel in July.

But she has decided not to compete because of other commitments.

Held every four years, the Games draw elite Jewish athletes from around the world.

Competitors have included tennis star Brad Gilbert and Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz.

“It's a huge honor, but I don't want to miss work,” said Perelman, who is pursuing a summer internship as a student in Cornell's School of Hotel Administration.

At the 12th Pan American Maccabi Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in late 2011, Perelman claimed silver medals, reaching the finals in singles, doubles and mixed-doubles competitions.

Besides being a standout player, Perelman is the founder of the Swing for a Cure clinics, to be held March 3 at the Mellon Park Tennis Center in Shadyside.

Players ages 4 to 13 will receive instruction, with proceeds benefiting juvenile diabetes research.

Perelman, who finished second at the WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA singles championships in 2010, started the fundraiser in 2006 in honor of a cousin who has juvenile diabetes.

Her sister, Emma, a freshman and member of the girls team at Shady Side Academy, organized this year's event, along with teammates Amanda Murphy and Madison Mordoh.

“I want to continue the great work Sara has done,” said Emma Perlman, 15, who qualified for the WPIAL singles championship after finishing third in Section 3-AAA in the fall.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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