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Penn-Trafford tennis looks to repeat success

| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Aaron Loughner | For the Penn-Trafford Star
Penn-Trafford's Charlotte Vertes hits a shot during the Section 1-AAA singles tournament on Sept. 13, 2012, at Franklin Regional.

Penn-Trafford girls tennis coach Jane DeBone admits to being somewhat superstitious.

But while the Warriors' first-year coach didn't want to make too many predictions about this year's team, she knows for sure her team is “in it to win it.”

“I told all of them (last week) I could not find a better, nicer, more positive, hard-working group of girls,” DeBone said. “I truly mean that.

“They said, ‘We're in it to win it.' As long as they keep that spirit ...” she said, trailing off.

The Warriors enter the 2013 season looking to at least match their success from 2012, when they finished second in Section 1-AAA with a 12-2 record and advanced to the WPIAL playoffs. Pine-Richland defeated Penn-Trafford in the first round of the playoffs.

DeBone, who spent several years as the girls junior varsity coach before taking over the varsity team from Linda Michaux prior to this season, is more than familiar with the talent on the team.

““It's actually exciting because some of these starting varsity girls I had when they were in ninth grade on JV,” she said. “To watch them grow from that and just jump up to varsity, it's a pretty neat thing to watch.”

Junior Charlotte Vertes again will play at No. 1 singles for Penn-Trafford after finishing second at the section singles tournament last season.

“I don't see why she can't be No. 1 in the section,” DeBone said. “I really don't.”

The No. 2 and No. 3 singles slots will be filled by senior Dana Kelly and junior Rachel Ford, respectively.

Freshman Elise Eisenstat will team up with senior Melanie Loughner at No. 1 doubles to begin the season, and senior Emily Frye as well as junior Maura McElhaney will start off as the Warriors' No. 2 doubles team.

DeBone said Eisenstat stepping up to play doubles as a freshman is a “pretty big feat in our section” and said Frye and McElhaney are ready to contribute at the varsity level after playing well for the junior varsity team.

“They've worked so hard the last couple of years in JV,” DeBone said. “They could have flip-flopped on the low end of varsity last year, but they stuck with the JV and they knew it was going to be their turn this year.”

Penn-Trafford was scheduled to play a scrimmage against Peter Township on Tuesday before opening the regular-season with a home section match against Kiski at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Before coaching Penn-Trafford's junior varsity team, DeBone spent seven years as the Warriors' boys varsity coach and also had coaching stops at Greensburg Salem, Jeannette and Seton Hill. She said she was looking forward to coaching the Warriors' girls in 2013.

“It's a little different with the varsity girls, in a positive way,” she said. “I've been waiting for this.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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