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Strong lineup lifts Mt. Pleasant tennis team

| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 1:41 a.m.

As he looks over his lineup, longtime Mt. Pleasant girls tennis coach Tony Splendore likes what he sees.

“Our singles are pretty stable, and this year our doubles have more experience and are going to be better,” Splendore said. “Sometimes, as you go down your lineup, your second doubles is really weak, but this season I feel confident with us at all five positions. I feel that we can win any five of our matches.”

At the top of the lineup will be senior Taylor Bradley. She moves up from second singles, where she played behind her older sister April last season.

“Her groundstrokes are very strong, and she also has a nice serve,” Splendore said. “Taylor's also strong at the net.”

Last season, Taylor Bradley was 23-5 overall and 12-0 in section play.

“When you play at number one, you do put a lot of undo pressure on yourself,” Splendore said. “At number two, you can relax more.”

Another senior, Paige Hertzog, will be slotted at second singles. Hertzog is also moving up in the lineup after playing third singles last season. A year ago, Hertzog posted a 17-4 overall mark while finishing 11-1 in the section.

“Paige is one of the players who plays a lot of long points,” Splendore said. “She wears her opponents down. She will come to the net occasionally, and her serve is consistent.”

Splendore said senior Carmen Kubasky and junior Brooke Lazur are battling to play third singles.

Kubasky will be moving up from first doubles. Lazur played last season at second doubles.

“Carmen has improved her game, and she has some nice groundstrokes,” Splendore said. “She's also improved a lot at the net. Even though she's a number three, she will come to the net and make her matches shorter.

“Brooke is one of our girls who is moving up the tennis ladder. She worked hard in the offseason, and her serve has improved. She can also get to most balls on the court.”

Whoever doesn't play third singles will be paired with junior Kaylee Gamrat at first doubles.

Splendore said there are a group of girls fighting to play second doubles, including juniors Alicia Polcha and Keri Kunkle, sophomores Kayla Queer, Madison Kromer, Michaela Krozel and Ariana Troxell, and freshman Natalie Haines.

“We're pretty solid at each position,” Splendore said. “Our level of play from No. 1 singles to second doubles is very consistent, and it doesn't drop off. I think that's where we're going to be successful.”

Last season, Mt. Pleasant finished 14-5 overall and 10-4 in Section 1-AA. Mt. Pleasant won a first-round playoff match over Springdale before losing to Sewickley Academy in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“Right now, the section looks to be a dogfight, but Greensburg Central Catholic is the favorite to win it,” Splendore said. “They have two very good singles players. It's going to be close battle for second and third. Southmoreland will be much better, and Brownsville and Derry will be good also. Hopefully, we'll be in that mix.”

Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer.

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