Sewickley Academy shuts out GCC in WPIAL semifinals
Greensburg Central Catholic girls tennis coach Tony Splendore didn't fault his team's effort in Monday's Class AA semifinal against Sewickley Academy.
Splendore thought his girls played some of their best tennis of the season, but the Panthers proved to be too much.
Sewickley Academy swept the Centurions, 5-0, and advanced to the finals for the first time since 2014. The Panthers will play Knoch on Wednesday at a time and site to be announced.
GCC will play in the consolation match, also Wednesday at a time and site to be determined with the winner advancing to the PIAA tournament.
“My hat's off to Sewickley. They were just that good,” Splendore said. “My No. 1 singles (Marlayna Vereena) probably played her best match of the year and got beat 6-love, 6-love, and our second doubles played a good match. Even in the second and third singles we played a level above what we had all year. They all played well, but they were just that much better than us.”
The Panthers had three freshmen — Evelyn Safar, Sirman Bedi and Christina Walton — play singles, and they all did well. Safar defeated Vereena, 6-0, 6-0, Bedi was a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Anna Vitale and Walton defeated Erin Schulte, 6-1, 6-0. Lydia Elste and Alina Mattson swept Keeley Malone and Gabrielle Guzik, 6-0, 6-0 in first doubles. Victoria Keller and Olivia McLeod were 6-1, 6-1 winners over Rachel Davis and Claire Hacker.
“We graduated a lot of experienced and talented seniors,” Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said. “We were blessed to have that group, and now we're blessed to have the three returning players and the six freshmen who made the team. I think the freshmen have become better and better as the season has gone on, and I think they are starting to play their best tennis at the end. It's exciting to watch.
“They really enjoy being on a team and playing for Sewickley Academy. That's a cool thing to see. We don't have to give them a pep talk about that. They really care about each other. It's spontaneous, and it's real.”
Monday's match was the fourth time in the last five years the two teams have played each other in the playoffs. Sewickley Academy improved to 3-1 against the Centurions in that span. GCC's victory came in the 2013 finals, which was the last time it made it to the championship.
The Centurions play Neshannock in the consolation match. They did not face the Lancers in the regular season. GCC has dedicated its season to Enrico Campi, who died in March. Campi was the owner of the Greensburg Racquet Club, where GCC plays its home matches. The Centurions' goals to begin the season were to win the section title, which they accomplished, and to make the state playoffs. A win Wednesday will allow them to check both goals off the list.
“(Campi) gave lessons to many of our players, so he had a big impact on their tennis in their younger years,” Splendore said. “We're hoping to come back and play Wednesday like we did today, honestly. If we do that, I think we'll be right in the match.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.