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Pine-Richland girls tennis rolling through section

| Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, 10:12 p.m.
Pine-Richland senior Alice Qian competes against Shaler Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at Pine-Richland.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland senior Alice Qian competes against Shaler Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at Pine-Richland.
Pine-Richland freshmen Abby Nardulli returns serve against Shaler Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at Pine-Richland.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland freshmen Abby Nardulli returns serve against Shaler Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at Pine-Richland.
Pine-Richland junior Alyssa Sarver serves against Shaler Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at Pine-Richland.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland junior Alyssa Sarver serves against Shaler Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at Pine-Richland.

The Pine-Richland girls tennis team is halfway through its Section 2-AAA schedule, and its play couldn't be going any more smoothly.

The Rams (4-0) knocked off all four of the section opponents they have played: Seneca Valley, Hampton, Shaler and Butler. While coach Janet Chappell said she has enjoyed the promising beginning, she also said she isn't ready to celebrate.

“We're undefeated in section so far, but we have some of the tougher ones coming up. We still have to play North Allegheny, and we have North Hills and Moon on the schedule soon, and those programs can be tough,” Chappell said.

“But I feel very good about our start so far.”

One reason for the Rams' successful start to section play is the addition of Melissa Vizcardo.

The junior moved to Pine-Richland from Texas this summer and wasted little time making an impact.

“Once she moved in, she set the lineup for us. She plays first singles, and she has helped us out a lot. She hasn't lost a game in section yet, and it's great to have that type of presence in the No. 1 singles spot. She is a really solid baseline player,” Chappell said.

After Vizcardo, junior Alyssa Sarver has assumed the No. 2 singles slot, and senior Alice Qian has taken over No. 3 singles duties.

In doubles play, the pairing of junior Katherine Stancil and freshman Abby Nardulli looked like more of an experiment to begin the season.

However, they are on a roll, CHappell said.

“It's very rare to have a ninth-grader on first doubles, but Abby is a good player and Katherine has been strong for us, too,” Chappell said.

“They are a really good doubles team. The first couple of matches might have been a little rough around the edges, but they're really coming on.”

The team's second doubles pairing is filled out by Elise Malcho and Maryann Papulak, and Meredith Muschweck has been providing depth as Pine-Richland's eighth player and first off the bench.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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