Greensburg Central Catholic sisters emerge as top tennis contenders
By Jason Mackey
Published: Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, 10:45 p.m.
Latrobe had the tennis-playing, title-winning Kissell sisters.
Greensburg Central Catholic belongs to the Kluskas.
Freshman Michaela Kluska won the Section 1-AA singles title for girls tennis at Mt. Pleasant last week by outlasting her older sister Alyvia, a sophomore, in three sets 4-6, 6-2, 7-6.
Both enter Wednesday's WPIAL Class AA singles tournament as top contenders — Alyvia Kluska won the Section 1-AA title last year and advanced to the WPIAL final — and could meet again in the championship.
The sisters don't necessarily look forward to playing each other, at least outside of practice. And their parents, Melissa and Dr. Michael Kluska, a plastic surgeon in Greensburg and a lifelong tennis player, don't particularly enjoy watching.
“It's tough on all of them,” GCC coach Shawn Vimslicky said after the section final. “The mother … I don't think she has any fingernails left. I think she chewed them all off.”
Michael Kluska played tennis at GCC and Washington & Jefferson and started taking the girls to a neighborhood court when they were 7 or 8 years old, he said.
It was then that Michaela and Alyvia began to realize they had opposite games. Alyvia was the aggressor, eager to play at the net and quickly finish points. Michaela outlasted opponents, trading ground strokes and forcing them to make mistakes.
“She's always been someone who's been very good at hitting those deep, top-spin balls,” Alyvia Kluska said. “I always know I have to get one more ball in than her because she's very consistent.”
Alyvia said she's the shy one. Michaela is more outgoing.
“I'm definitely the more competitive, feisty and outgoing of the two of us,” Michaela said.
Alyvia Kluska faced little resistance last year before running into WPIAL champion Spencer Caravaggio of Quaker Valley, a player she lost to 6-1, 6-1. Kluska won once in the PIAA tournament before getting shut out by Audrey Ann Blakely of Wyomissing.
Michaela has routinely challenged Alyvia and vice-versa, often resulting in lengthy matches.
“It's tough for them,” Michael Kluska said. “It's a big challenge. It's much tougher to play each other than to play a match against someone who's not family.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the relationship is that sometimes the Kluska sisters are not competitive at all: Even at USTA Middle States tournaments, it's not uncommon for one sister to forfeit to avoid playing the other.
Given how successful the Kluskas have been, there figures to be a few more nervous days for Michael and Melissa Kluska.
“I told my girls, ‘The best thing that could happen to us is that we do this three times this year.' ” Michael Kluska said. “If that's the worst of the experience, we're doing OK.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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