WPIAL champion North Allegheny tennis team turns attention to state tournament
The North Allegheny girls tennis team (19-0 overall) is seeking its fourth PIAA Class AAA title in five seasons with a younger than usual squad.
The Tigers, the WPIAL champions, have three freshmen and only one senior among top players.
Tigers coach Michele Weniger said in previous seasons, the Tigers always had a few seniors who started.
The Tigers feature one of the top junior tennis players in the country.
Freshman Ava Catanzarite competes in first singles. The Tennis Recruiting Network, which tracks college prospects, ranks her first in Pennsylvania in her class.
Junior captain Ashley Huang and sophomore Rebekah Rest are other singles players.
Freshmen Carolyn Tsung and Claire Shao play first doubles and senior captain Katherine Ambrose and junior Riya Yadav second doubles.
The Tigers, the Section 2-AAA champion, romped to their fifth consecutive WPIAL crown. They dropped only one point in three matches before blanking Pine-Richland Oct. 4 in the final.
Ambrose expects a stiffer challenge at states.
“Every team has earned their spot, just as we have,” Ambrose said. “Everyone is very excited to put our best foot forward and play some good tennis.”
The Tigers will take on the District 10 champion in the first round Oct. 24 at a site to be determined. The winner will travel to Hershey for the rest of the tournament Oct. 27-28.
The Tigers lost by one point to District 1 champion Harriton in the 2016 PIAA final.
Tsung said the Tigers are determined to bring back a trophy.
“We're ready for the East,” she said.
Catanzarite said she and her teammates all get along.
“That makes it even a better journey,” she said.
The Tigers have history on their side. Sisters Tina and Anna Li helped the Tigers to WPIAL and PIAA titles as freshmen in 2013 and went on to shine for the Tigers the next three seasons.
They play for Navy and Harvard, respectively.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.