Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Brashear's Elisa Varlotta, Central Catholic's Brent Rodgers
Claim to fame: Varlotta won the City League singles tennis championship, beating Carrick's Dana Stabryla, 6-4, 6-2, on Oct. 3 at the Pittsburgh Indoor Tennis Club. Variotta will compete in the PIAA individual tennis tournament at Hershey Racquet Club on Nov. 2.
“I was very proud of her,” coach Vivian Varlotta said. “She's been working very hard. She's only a freshman this year and for her first time to be in the championship, she just performed very well.”
How did it feel to win the City League championship in your freshman year?
It was really cool because since I was a freshman, I knew there were a lot of older people who were going to be there. I knew I was a good player, but I wasn't sure if I could beat them.
Was there any pressure on you to perform against some of the best players in the city?
Since I was a freshman, I didn't really feel the pressure. I knew I would have three years ahead of me to win. I just went out there and was going to try my best and just see how it went.
Do you play any other sports besides tennis?
My main sport is actually cross country, so I'm going to try to go to states for that, too. I have two more meets that I need to improve my time to get into states.
How difficult is it for you to play tennis for Brashear even though you go to CAPA?
It feels really weird that I have to play for Brashear because I don't go to Brashear. It's hard because I don't make many of the practices, so I have to practice on my own time. I really like sports, so if that's what I have to do, then that's what I have to do.
How are you going to prepare for the state tournament?
I'm just going to play a lot. My dad and I always go out, and he helps me. He helps me by setting up different matches. I know states is going to be a lot harder because that's their main thing. They practice all the time. I'm excited for the experience.
School: Central Catholic
Claim to fame: Rodgers won the WPIAL Class AAA individual golf championship after shooting an even par 70 at Fox Chapel Golf Club on Oct. 3. Rodgers, who golfed with the fourth group, had to wait nearly an hour to find out that he edged Indiana's Matt Holuta (71) and Upper St. Clair's Thomas Steve (72) to secure the crown. Rodgers will advance to the PIAA Western Regional at Tom's Run Golf Course on Oct. 15.
“He can just bomb the golf ball,” coach Corey O'Connor said. “There are no par 5s on the golf course for him. Even on some short narrow holes, he has the ability to hit a mid-iron that you can control better, and he hits it on any par 4. That really increases his chance to hit a good score because he hits the ball so long.”
How did it feel to win the title?
It felt great. I just wanted to play a good round. Honestly, I could have played better, but I'm glad I finished how I did.
How difficult was it for you to have to sit and wait to see what the final result was?
Shooting 70, I knew that'd be a good score that would be tough to beat. There were a handful of guys out there that I knew I could beat. Once I heard some people did this and that, I thought my score was going to hold up. So I was glad about that.
What went through your head when your tee shot on 13 went into the trees to the left of the fairway?
After my tee shot, I just said I'm not going to try to be a hero. I just wanted to get on the fairway and give myself a chance to hit par. I thought I hit a nice shot but it hit the tree. There's nothing more to it than that. I'm just glad I was able to make par. It was a big momentum shift for me.
What are your expectations as you prepare for the PIAA tournament next week?
It should be fun. There are going to be a lot of good kids out there. It's going to be a tough competition. Obviously, I think I'm playing in the last group so I think there will be a lot of eyes on me. I just want to go out there and shoot a good number. All it is for me is advancing.
Have you ever played Tom's Run?
No I have not. I'm going to go (this week). I'm going to try to get out there as much as I can.
— Brian Graham