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Talented Baldwin tennis squad led by Claherty, Stojanoff, Schaming

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Baldwin girls' tennis team has not made the WPIAL playoffs in the last 27 years.

But head coach Dave Hayden remains optimistic about the Lady Highlanders chances to finally break through.

“We don't have a star, but we're probably as deep as we've ever been,” Hayden said.

Baldwin remains in historically tough Section 4-AAA, which annually is dominated by tennis powerhouses Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair.

That means the Lady Highlanders most likely must fight for the third and final playoff spot against teams like Montour, West Allegheny and Oakland Catholic.

In recent years, Oakland Catholic has taken that place and looks tough again this season.

Senior Allie Claherty is playing No. 1 singles at Baldwin this season.

“She's a fighter,” Hayden said. “Allie is relentless. Her matches are often the longest.”

At No. 2 singles for the Lady Highlanders is junior Alex Stojanoff.

“Alex picked up a racket for the first time as a freshman,” Hayden said. “She's a good athlete who is steady from the baseline.”

Sophomore Morgan Schaming is Baldwin's No. 3 singles player. This is her second year as a varsity starter.

Hayden values Schaming's work ethic and versatility.

“She worked hard all summer,” Hayden said. “Morgan can play either singles or doubles for the team.”

Seniors Liz Backo, who is a co-captain, and Candice Danielson are competing as the first doubles tandem. Backo battled an injury last year, but is back strong this season.

“Liz and Candice are friends off the court, so I think that helps with their chemistry and communication,” Baldwin's head coach said.

Natalie Garda, a senior, and Samantha Stark, a sophmore, are handling the second doubles duties this season.

Hayden believes with some hard work and a little luck, the Lady Highlanders finally may be able to advance into the playoffs.

“They're all good players. They all want to get there. We're optimistic,” he said.

Junior Kyra Kinzler is the team's other co-captain. The remaining team members who look to contribute in reserve roles include seniors Jackie Marx, Bri DiLucia, Liz Lane, Alana Miklas and Kateryna Czuczman; and juniors Jenny Janko and Allison Melvin.

Other top underclassmen prospects include sophomores Julianna Mamajek and Ali Marx, and freshman Megan Costantino.

Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.

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