Quaker Valley's Caravaggio overcomes injury to capture WPIAL crown
Quaker Valley senior Spencer Caravaggio quickly shifted her focus to the PIAA Class AA girls tennis singles championship after winning the WPIAL title last week.
The PIAA championship will be held Nov. 2 and 3 at the Hershey Racquet Club. The top three finishers in the WPIAL qualified.
“We will be playing indoors, so I plan to practice a lot indoors,” Caravaggio said. “Indoors, the ball comes a lot faster — I want to be comfortable with that.
“I also plan to do a lot of conditioning to strengthen my shoulder.”
Caravaggio overcame a sore shoulder to win the WPIAL championship, where she beat Alyvia Kluska of Greensburg Central Catholic in the final, 6-1, 6-1.
Caravaggio has been bothered this season with loose shoulder ligaments, an injury she attributes to being a competitive swimmer when younger. Wearing a shoulder brace, she has been restricted to underhand serves.
“There's not much I can do about (the injury) except exercise,” she said. “I've been working with a trainer and have been doing a lot of stretching with (exercise) bands to try to tighten (the shoulder) up.”
“We held her out of a couple (regular-season) matches as a precaution, but the injury really hasn't been much of a factor,” Quaker Valley coach Jeff Sebastian said.
It was the second time in three years Caravaggio won the WPIAL title. She won as a sophomore before slipping to third place a year ago.
The PIAA runner-up in 2010, she likes her prospects at this year's championship.
“Having been there, I know what to expect,” she said. “I won't be as nervous this time around.”
Her coach also is optimistic.
“(Caravaggio's) skill set is phenomenal,” Sebastian said. “She has textbook strokes and plays the point with passion and poise. She's been a joy to coach.”
Caravaggio, 17, competes in junior tournaments throughout the year. Last year, she ranked 15th in the girls 16 division in the U.S. Tennis Association Middle States section, which consists of players from Pennsylvania, Delaware, the West Virginia panhandle and most of New Jersey.
Several times in 2009, she ranked No. 1 in the girls 14 division before finishing the year ranked second.
“Spencer had a lot of early success, which can be tough to maintain,” said Frank Baritot, the owner and director of the Pennsylvania Tennis Academy in Wexford, where Caravaggio trains year-round. “She's worked hard to stay focused.”
Caravaggio would like to play tennis in college but has not decided on a school.
“I'd like to go some place warm so I can play outdoors all year,” she said.
Caravaggio is one of two players from Section 6-AA who will compete at the PIAA championship.
Sewickley Academy junior Sydney Miggantz advanced after beating Racquel Holiday of Beaver in the third-place consolation final, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Miggantz was section runner-up to Caravaggio this year.
The other Section 6-AA WPIAL singles qualifier, Sewickley Academy's Samantha Gohh, fell to Holiday in the quarterfinals, 10-2.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.