Quaker Valley edges rival Sewickley Academy to win tennis title
Quaker Valley tennis coach Jeff Sebastian would put his team's rivalry with Sewickley Academy up against any in the WPIAL — no matter what sport.
“I know that there are great football rivalries and there are great basketball rivalries,” he said. “But when it comes to tennis in the WPIAL, the Quaker Valley-Sewickley Academy (Class) AA rivalry is as good as any. And it's always good tennis. Both teams are always coached well, they come ready to play and they fight for every point.”
The Quakers and Panthers met in the WPIAL Class AA championship match for the sixth straight season last week at North Allegheny.
Quaker Valley took home the hardware, beating Sewickley Academy 3-2 to avenge its loss from last season's WPIAL title match.
“Playing Sewickley matches is totally different,” Quaker Valley senior Spencer Caravaggio said. “The girls are really close, but it's just so much more intense. Everyone wants to win that much more, and it's a great atmosphere. It's so much better to win when you know you're playing such a great team.” The two schools, located just over a mile apart, have dominated WPIAL tennis in recent years.
The Panthers and Quakers have met in the WPIAL final each season since 2007, with each team winning three titles.
In total, the Quaker Valley girls claimed six WPIAL championships in the past nine years, while Sewickley Academy has three in the past five.
“I think it's a tribute to the Sewickley community that tennis is taken that seriously,” Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said. “I think there's a lot of pride from Quaker Valley and from Sewickley Academy in representing the town. That's why it matters more.”
Last Friday, Caravaggio — the WPIAL singles champion — and freshman Farrah Bojalad won matches at No. 1 and No. 3 singles, while Sewickley Academy junior Sydney Miggantz claimed victory at No. 2 singles.
With both doubles matches going on simultaneously, Quaker Valley needed a victory in just one to win the title. And the Quakers got it when the second doubles team of senior Connor Hamilton and junior Isabella Hubsch won in straight sets.
“It's hard to train doubles and even third singles sometimes into realizing that their point is just as important (as No. 1 singles),” Sebastian said. “But they see it. Every time we play Sewickley, it comes down to usually someone on that end.”
The teams didn't get much of a chance to reflect on the outcome of Friday's match, as both began play in the PIAA tournament on Tuesday. Quaker Valley took on District 5 champion Windber at North Allegheny, while Sewickley Academy traveled to DuBois to play District 9 champion Elk County Catholic.
Both teams won their opening matches, 5-0, and will continue play Friday.
With the rivals located on opposite sides of the bracket, another meeting is possible in the final.
Snyder said his young team — the Panthers have no seniors — needed to improve upon some individual weaknesses if it hoped to defend its state title from last season.
“Being more aggressive at the net, playing smarter tennis at times — we will continue to work on our weaknesses at the moment in order to get us better,” he said. “We're not focused on one opponent. We're focused on ‘are we playing our best tennis (this) week?' ”
Quaker Valley, meanwhile, has a chance to add an elusive PIAA championship to its trophy case. The Quakers advanced to the PIAA final in 2006, '07 and '09, but they lost each time to Harriton from District 1.
“We're not stopping ‘till we see this to the end,” Sebastian said. “I'm hoping for better results this time. I'm sick of losing sleep over second place.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.