FC freshmen dominate section event
As expected, the Section 3-AAA singles championships boiled down to Fox Chapel and Shady Side Academy.
What wasn't expected was the extraordinary fact that all four semifinalists were freshmen.
Fox Chapel's Laurel Shymansky beat SSA's Lindsey Miller 6-0, 6-0 in the first semifinal while the Foxes' Lacey Cohen defeated SSA's Emma Perelman, 6-1, 6-1 in the other semifinal, creating an all FC championship match.
In that match, Shymanski won in straight sets over Cohen, 6-1, 6-3.
In the consolation match Perelman beat Miller by 6-2, 6-1.
Shymanski, Cohen and Perelman all qualified for the WPIAL singles championships this week.
Fox Chapel coach Alex Slezak was elated and not overly surprised by the performances of his freshmen.
“I knew both girls were strong competitors coming into the season and I believed the chance for this to happen was certainly there,” Slezak said. “However, we never discussed it because my goal as a coach was to keep my players focused on their respective games and the tasks to even get there.
“In the finals, they very much pushed one another. I even coached both girls, giving specific advice to Lacey on how to make Laurel as uncomfortable as possible.
“I also coached Laurel in helping her maintain her ‘A' game plan because it was working. This competitive environment is exactly what I try to create amongst all members of my team.
“For continued long-term development, players must be pushed beyond their comfort zone and become comfortable at being uncomfortable.
“That is quickly becoming a favorite saying of my team and a concept I design our training around. Both girls have the utmost respect for one another both on and off the court and I hope they continue to push one another and maximize their potential in the years to come.
“All the credit goes to them. They are the ones who put in the hard work. All I try to do is facilitate opportunities for them to continue growing as players and young people.”
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.