Peters Township tennis hopes to defend titles
By Rick Shrum
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, 11:28 p.m.
Stephanie Smith, Sara Komer and the Peters Township girls tennis team ruled last year. They were supposed to rule this year.
Smith, however, isn't playing with the varsity because of conflicts with national tournaments and Komer is dealing with a tender hamstring.
A team that loses its top player for the season and, possibly, its No. 2 briefly could spell trouble. But this is Peters, where they retool and opponents are usually the ones in peril.
“One of our strengths the past few years has been depth,” coach Brandt Bowman said. “We have some kids who would start elsewhere but don't start here. Our JV team is good as some varsity teams.”
With Smith and Komer, Peters would be an overwhelming favorite to repeat as WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA champion. They are among the elite players in the WPIAL, along with senior Annie Baich and junior Callie Frey of Mt. Lebanon, Pine-Richland junior Marlys Bridgham, North Allegheny junior Kylie Isaacs, Penn-Trafford sophomore Charlotte Vertes and Quaker Valley senior Spencer Caravaggio.
Even without Smith, Peters should be a powerhouse. Three other starters return from a squad that went 22-0 en route to its second PIAA title in three years and third in six. And those starters had young talent behind them.
“Last year's team was stacked from 1 to 7,” Bowman said.
Smith is vying for a spot in the U.S. Open. She and Ron Mercer, her mixed doubles partner and personal coach, are competing this week in a USTA national qualifier for the Open. They got there by winning at the Middle States Sectional Championships in West Virginia.
At the scholastic level, Smith was nearly unbeatable in 2011. She and Komer won WPIAL and PIAA doubles championships, and Smith finished third in WPIAL singles.
Komer, when healthy, will replace her at No. 1. She injured the hamstring earlier this summer, recovered, then tweaked it while chasing a ball last week. Bowman said she is rehabbing the injury and may return soon.
For now, freshman Chloe Grzyb is playing first singles. She was born in England and has justified her reputation as a quality player. She and the singles pecking order will drop when Komer returns.
Vida Komer, a senior, is at second singles and sophomore Abby Cummings third. When Sara Komer is healthy, her sister, Vida, will be No. 3 and Cummings will play No. 1 doubles, her position last season.
Cummings has recovered from two hip surgeries within six months, the most recent during the winter.
“She just started playing full speed five weeks ago and seems to be well,” Bowman said.
The doubles teams will be sophomores Jen Holcombe and Caryle Campagna and sophomore Morgan Parisi with Megan Hixon, a freshman. Junior Jen Stroyd and sophomores Christen Sollon and Meredith Rohn should get playing time.
Despite the initial adversity, Bowman is upbeat about the future — and not just the upcoming season.
He has a valid reason, saying “We have one senior on the varsity.”
Rick Shrum 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.
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off
- Penguins GM Shero’s deadline deals: Addition by subtraction
- ‘Un-American’? That’s Harry Reid, the Senate’s lowly smear artist
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Penguins minor league report: Defenseman Dumoulin optimistic for home stretch
- Experts: Anti-vaccine view a peril
- SUV flips onto its side on Parkway East
- IUP students have raucous early St. Patrick’s Day celebration