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Fox Chapel tennis tournament draws crowd of junior players

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted | Tom Benic
Girls 18 Doubles was won by, from left, Lauren Shymansky of Fox Chapel and Kylie Isaacs of Franklin Park who defeated defending champions and PIAA finalists Nicole Cyterski of Fox Chapel and Megan Wasson of Fox Chapel.
Submitted | Tom Benic
Boys’ 18 Doubles Finalists were, from left, Sidd Rajupet and Robert Shymansky, both of Fox Chapel and champions, Ben Vinarski of Wexford and Chad Kissell of Latrobe.
Submitted | Tom Benic
Two 9-year-olds, from left, Alyssa Kush of Johnstown and Madison Cordisco of Hampton placed second in the Girls’ 14 doubles to Girls’ 12 singles champion Ashley Huang of Wexford and Jenna Kolano of Marshall Township.
Maria Santilli, 13 of Irwin returns a shot in Girls’ 18 singles. She was runner-up in the division.
Submitted | Tom Benic
Jared Nord of O'Hara reaches to return a low volley in Boys’ 12 singles play.

The 16th Annual Fox Chapel Junior Tennis Tournament concluded last week, and it was full of excitement and great weather.

“It was another fine turnout and a great week for junior tennis,” tournament chairman Tom Benic said. “Although entries were down from recent years, we still had 140 singles players, 40 doubles teams and 220 matches played over four days. That makes us the largest tournament in the state this year.”

And to top it off, Mother Nature was on Benic's side all week.

“Not a single match was delayed, although rain clouds were threatening on the last two days,” Benic said.

On the court, local players shined throughout the event.

“Fox Chapel area players did very well again,” Benic said.

As for the overall action, Benic said the doubles play was especially competitive.

“We had some of the best doubles play in the 16-year history of the tournament, in my view,” Benic said. “To give you an example of the caliber of players, in Girls 18 doubles, the defending champions (and PIAA runners-up in Megan Wasson and Nicole Cyterski) split sets but lost in a super-tiebreaker in the finals.”

Wasson is headed to Duquesne this month on a tennis scholarship while Cyterski will be a senior and No. 1 player at Oakland Catholic.

The winning team featured Laurel Shymansky, a sophomore and No. 1 singles player at Fox Chapel Area this fall; and Kylie Isaacs, a senior and No. 1 singles player at North Allegheny who will go to Duquesne on a tennis scholarship in 2014.

“It just doesn't get much better than that,” Benic said.

Benic also was impressed with some the younger talent showcased in this year's tournament.

“I think this was the best group of very young — under 10 — players since Alison Riske and Bjorn Fratangelo played here as 8-year-olds,” he said.

Benic takes pride in the venue of the tournament.

“Fox Chapel Racquet Club is the best outdoor tennis venue in the state,” he said.

“It's just a great place to play tennis and watch tennis, which is a primary reason this tournament is so popular among players and their parents.

“The major renovation to the pool and tennis deck at the Racquet Club this year made a great venue even better.”

Benic also credited Martin Sturgess, director of racquet sports for the Fox Chapel Racquet Club, for helping to make the event a success.

“He schedules every match by hand before the tournament starts, checks in every player, assigns every match and makes numerous minute-to-minute adjustments if players are late or withdraw, or there is a court or weather issue,” Benic said.

Officials at other local venues also contribute.

“This is very much a community-wide event with a great deal of cooperation from many people.” Benic said. “(The) willingness of the Pittsburgh Field Club, Fox Chapel Golf Club and Shady Side Academy to donate courts to this event is absolutely essential, considering the large number of entries.

“We even had Fox Chapel Area High School courts as backup and practice courts.

“Racquet Club membership has embraced this tournament for 16 years, not only giving up the use of their courts but also volunteering for a myriad of tasks, from serving as court officials to providing transportation to various sites.

“We're planning for an even better tournament next August. Route 28 construction projects should be finished, so we expect more entries from the South Hills.

“Mark the date down. It will be held on Aug. 4 to 8, 2014.”

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or

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