WPIAL tennis champ Frey seeking elusive PIAA championship
The reigning WPIAL Class AAA girls tennis champion believes she's even better this season. It remains to be seen if the same can be said for the teams that are defending their WPIAL titles.
The high school season begins Monday, and Mt. Lebanon's Callie Frey is back for her senior year. Frey, who holds a No. 6 ranking in the USTA's Middle States region for 18 singles, moved her training to Alpha Tennis & Fitness in Harmar last year.
The repeated drives from the South Hills have been worth it. Frey said that training there “definitely” has made her a better player.
“There are a lot of better hitters there and higher-level guys who hit there and who hit hard,” Frey said. “So within the past year, my ranking's gone up, and I've started winning more, and I've improved from there.”
The lone room for improvement when it comes to singles performance at the high-school level would be a PIAA championship. Frey has three PIAA silver medals: one in singles last year and in doubles from 2010 and '11 with partner Annie Baich.
In getting out of the WPIAL tournament, Frey could to have to face some experienced players. Thirteen of the 15 WPIAL Class AAA tournament qualifiers from last year were underclassmen.
Some of the projected top players, however, have elected not to play this season. Defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA team champion Peters Township, for example, is without juniors Sarah Komer and Abby Cummings, who combined to win the WPIAL and PIAA doubles championships last season.
Komer is playing volleyball, and Cummings elected to focus on her tournament schedule, Indians coach Brandt Bowman said. Senior Stephanie Smith, who teamed with Komer to win the WPIAL and PIAA doubles championships two years ago, also did not come out for the team this year.
“If we had all the girls who still should be playing, we'd probably have the best team we've ever had,” said Bowman, who has guided the Indians to four of the past seven PIAA Class AAA team championships.
Luckily for Bowman and Peters Township, there is another Komer sister. Freshman Anna Komer joins sophomore Chloe Grzyb as players who would make a strong first singles option. Junior Carlye Campagna (third singles) and sophomore Megan Hixon and junior Jen Holcombe (first doubles) also were in the lineup for the start of the season, although Bowman said the order could change.
As many as 10 players could challenge for duty at second doubles for Peters Township.
“Our strength has always been our depth,” Bowman said.
That also is often true of defending Class AA team champion Quaker Valley, which has won six of the past nine WPIAL Class AA titles. If the Quakers repeat this season, though, they'll have to do it without reigning WPIAL singles champion Spencer Caravaggio, who is at Duquesne University.
“Last year we were star-driven by Spencer Caravaggio with a good supporting cast,” coach Christi Hays said. “This year we are an ensemble cast.”
Sophomore Farrah Bojalad is charged with filling Caravaggio's shoes at first singles.
The Quakers' stingiest competition, as usual, figures to come from a couple miles down the road. Sewickley Academy has appeared in the past five WPIAL title matches, winning three.
The Panthers' Amy Cheng and Jappman Monga won the WPIAL doubles title as juniors last season, and teammate Sydney Miggantz qualified for the PIAA singles tournament as a junior last season.
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.