Sewickley Academy, Quaker Valley tennis teams look ahead after bowing out of PIAA tournament
After failing to defend their title at the PIAA Class AA girls tennis team championship last week in Hershey, the Sewickley Academy players began thinking about next season, when all the team's top players are expected to return.
“This was very much a rebuilding year,” junior Amy Cheng said. “We had no seniors. We should be really strong next season.”
“Sewickley Academy is going to be awesome,” said Spencer Caravaggio, a senior at archrival Quaker Valley.
At the PIAA championship, Sewickley Academy, the WPIAL runner-up, was eliminated in the quarterfinals, 3-2, by Berks Catholic, the third-place team in District 3.
Sewickley Academy junior Samantha Gohh won at first singles, 6-2, 7-6. The Panthers' other victory came in second doubles, where freshmen Cara Dietrich and Lauren Ritz overcame a second-set loss to win, 6-2, 0-6, 6-3.
Sewickley Academy advanced to the quarterfinals after shutting out District 9 champion Elk County Catholic in the first round, 5-0.
“I'm proud of our team's effort,” Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said. “We were strong considering we had five out of seven starters who had not played a match before in state competition.”
Juniors Sydney Miggantz and Jappmann Monga competed at second and third singles. Cheng and sophomore Riley Roberts formed the first doubles team.
Miggantz, who finished third at the WPIAL singles championship, will return to Hershey this week for the PIAA championship.
Cheng and Monga look forward to reuniting at the PIAA doubles championship, also to be held this week in Hershey. Cheng and Monga qualified after winning the WPIAL title last month.
“Junior Sydney Joseph, an excellent doubles player, missed (the WPIAL and PIAA team championships) because she was ill,” said Snyder, in his sixth year as Sewickley Academy coach. “It forced us to juggle our lineup.”
Quaker Valley, the WPIAL champion, also was eliminated following a one-point loss in the PIAA quarterfinals. District 4 champion Loyalsock edged the Quakers, 3-2.
After Caravaggio easily won at first singles, 6-1, 6-0, the Quakers struggled, dropping each of the two remaining singles matches in three sets.
Caravaggio, the WPIAL singles champion, will be among the favorites at the PIAA championship.
“This is Spencer's year to outshine the competition in every way,” Quaker Valley coach Jeff Sebastian said.
Senior Connor Hamilton and junior Isabella Hubsch scored Quaker Valley's second point at second doubles, 6-4, 6-1.
“(Hamilton and Hubsch) were in control throughout the match,” Sebastian said.
After a sluggish start, juniors Caroline Steliotes and Emily Veeck rallied before losing at first doubles, 6-2, 6-3.
Injury and inexperience plagued the Quakers in second and third singles.
“(Senior) Samantha Richman was playing under duress at second singles (with) some arch (and) foot (problems) that hobbled her down the stretch,” Sebastian said. “As a freshman, Farrah Bojalad, at No. 3 singles, was on (a) big stage for two-and-a-half hours.
“(Richman) showed tremendous heart; (Bojalad) played like a champ and almost (won).”
Quaker Valley shut out District 5 champion Windber in the first round, 5-0.
It was the second straight year the Quakers were eliminated in the quarterfinals. They were PIAA runners-up in 2006 and 2009.
Quaker Valley also was eliminated in the quarterfinal round in 2004.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.