Baldwin tennis team determined to snap long WPIAL playoff drought
At the start of each season, it's common for coaches to set their sights on qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs.
For the Baldwin girls' tennis team, that goal has been unrealized for an astonishing 26 years.
The Lady Highlanders are hopeful they can finally end the dubious streak this year, thanks to a large and experienced team ... and maybe even some help from a German exchange student.
Dave Hayden returns for his fourth season as Baldwin's head coach. He said there are six returning starters on this year's team who should have the experience needed to make a legitimate run for a WPIAL playoff berth in Section 5AAA.
Among those returning starters is Taylor Czarny, Baldwin's lone senior and team captain who is expected to retain her spot atop the Lady Highlanders' starting ladder.
"She made varsity as a freshman and has been No. 1 since she was a sophomore," Hayden said.
Other starters in this year's lineup include juniors Corinne Kirk, Allie Claherty, Candace Danielson and Desiree Allridge, sophomore Alex Stojanoff, and freshman prospect Morgan Schaming.
Hayden is hopeful junior Liz Backo, who is recovering from knee surgery, eventually will contribute as well.
Other members of Baldwin's varsity team include juniors Bri DiLucia, Natalie Garda, Kayla Carr, Jackie Marx and Syrina Neumah, sophomores Kyra Kinsler and Jenny Yanko, and freshmen Emily Barton and Samantha Stark
A surprise, but a welcome addition, to the team is Marie Lux, a foreign exchange student from Germany.
Lux did not arrive in Pittsburgh until midway through preseason practice, so Hayden is unsure what role she will play.
He is hopeful, however, that Lux will be able to bolster the team in its quest for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Schaming is the first freshman to land a starting position on the varsity team during Hayden's tenure as head coach.
That, along with the two other freshmen team members, bodes well for the future of Baldwin tennis.
"Morgan has worked extremely hard this summer and has improved her game a lot," Hayden said.
Section 5AAA includes perennial powers Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, while North Catholic also is a consistently strong section team.
USC lost four players to graduation last year, giving Hayden hope the Lady Panthers might be beatable.
Hayden welcomed a new assistant coach, George McCormack, to the girls' tennis program this year. McCormack also is Baldwin's head wrestling coach, and a gym teacher at the high school.
Together, they have made some minor changes to the preseason practices, including utilizing more running and footwork drills.
"Our goal is to end the streak of not making the (WPIAL)playoffs,"Hayden said. "I think the girls seem really concerned with helping Taylor finally make the playoffs."
Czarny has played tennis at the varsity level since she her freshman year, and hopes to continue her career in college.
"Taylor is a very determined player on the court,"Hayden said. "She has been one of the best players I've ever coached.
"She will no doubt end up as one of Baldwin's winningest players."
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.
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Penguins slip past Sharks, 3-2, in shootout
- Pirates’ outfield may have few defensive peers
- Penguins’ Letang leaves hospital, out with concussion
- Sex-soaked culture faulted for fraternity house parties
- Hempfield infant fights rare disease
- Penguins notebook: Five defensemen dress against San Jose
- Starkey: Next frontier for Steelers offense
- LaBar: WrestleMania 31 one of the best ever
- Researchers uncover details to help get GOP candidates elected
- Pirates notebook: Decker leaves game with calf injury