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Shaler girls tennis finishes season of growth

| Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, 7:48 p.m.

The Shaler girls tennis team tried to set itself up for success.

Titans coach Brian Duermeyer put together a nonsection schedule to help the Titans be successful when it came to Section 2-AAA play.

Shaler stepped forward with its junior varsity and varsity programs this season. The varsity team collected four victories, one shy of their highest total since 2011.

Shaler's JV team beat Riverview and Springdale's varsity teams.

“We'll continue to schedule competitive matches in the future,” Duermeyer said. “North Catholic was a nice match for us, even though we ended up losing. Vincentian Academy, who we beat, is a nice match for the future.”

What really stood out to Duermeyer was the sheer number of people at the team banquet.

With 25 players on the team, there were 70 kids and parents at the end-of-the-year meeting.

“It's a great deal,” Duermeyer said. “A lot of local schools outside of North Allegheny and Pine-Richland are seeing a dip.”

At the section tournament, Shaler saw a mixed bag of results. In singles, Lydia Valentine and Maura Rost bowed out in the first round.

For doubles, Amber McGaffick and Mackenzie Romac won their first-round match against North Hills' Meghan Schlipp and Kelsey Davis, 10-6, before losing to the top-seeded pair from Pine-Richland, 10-0.

Shaler's Valentine and Lily Buckshaw beat North Hills' Hannah Kunsak and Lexi Mandell, 10-6, before losing 10-0 to Mars' Amelia Haley and Emily Ivory in the next round.

McGaffick and Romac, who played at No. 2 doubles, will bump up to the top spot next season.

Valentine, a junior, will return as the top singles player.

Duermeyer expects to see progress from those players who will return.

“(McGaffick and Romac) are going to take another jump like they did next year, and they will be fine,” Duermeyer said. “We have Kayli Hannan, a sophomore who will be competing for a singles spot. She's a sparkplug player and fights for every point.”

Sophomore Mandi Dobson and freshman Olivia Wilkins are expected to step forward.

It's something Duermeyer hopes the whole program can do.

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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