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Thomas Jefferson tennis team seeking seventh consecutive playoff berth

| Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, 10:43 a.m.

Long-time head coach Chuck Correll expects his Thomas Jefferson girls' varsity tennis team to have yet another successful season in 2012.

With four returning starters and an abundance of underclassmen joining the program, Correll believes his squad will be ready to face its opponents aptly in section competition.

The Lady Jaguars have made it to the WPIAL playoffs for the past six years.

"That's a nice streak, and I think we can keep it going," Correll said. "We have a nice balance to our team this year. It's a really good group of girls."

Seniors Anna Bogar, Caitlin Monroe, Kristen Pavlik and Jamie Liptak are the team's returning starters.

According to Correll, a player to watch this year at Thomas Jefferson is junior Samantha Moss. She was not part of the starting seven last season, but has made significant improvements to her game since then.

"Samantha has gotten really good," Correll said.

But Moss has tough competition at the No. 1 singles position, with Bogar and Monroe playing well also.

And that coveted No. 1 singles spot is still up for grabs. Match challenges in practice among the three girls last week and this week will be the deciding factor.

One doubles tandem appears to have nailed down its ladder spot for the Lady Jaguars.

"Jaime (Liptak) and Kristen (Pavlik) are going to be a really strong first doubles team," Correll said.

The veteran tennis coach expects spirited competition for remaining ladder positions on the team as well.

"There are three girls trying for two spots on the second doubles team," Correll said.

Competing for those doubles berths are juniors Olivia Joyce, Alex Bartosch and sophomore Kalei Trbovich.

Correll mentioned two early team goals for the Lady Jaguars.

"First, we want to beat South Park," he said, "and then make the (WPIAL) playoffs."

Thomas Jefferson's match against South Park, scheduled for Sept 10, has become a rivalry for both schools.

The Lady Eagles are coached by Correll's son, Chuck Correll III, and the annual matchup has been dubbed, "Pizza Wars," because the winning coach has to buy pizza for both teams following the match.

Correll has at least 10 incoming freshman trying out for the varsity team this year. Many have little or no tennis experience.

"That's how it usually goes. By the time they're juniors, we make them into players," said Correll, who credited his assistant, Marie Bartoletti, for her invaluable coaching help.

On Monday, the Thomas Jefferson girls will face Fort Cherry for the first time.

New to the section, Fort Cherry is a consolidated squad with players from South Fayette joining the team.

The WPIAL allows such mergers when a school does not have enough players to field its own squad.

"Fort Cherry is kind of an unknown quantity for us," Correll said, "but we'll be prepared to play them."

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