Section 1-AAA singles tournament features top players
Penn-Trafford girls tennis coach Jane DeBone will face an interesting dilemma when the Section 1-AAA singles tournament begins Wednesday.
On the one hand, her top player, junior Charlotte Vertes, looks to be one of the favorites to win the tournament and earn a spot in next week's WPIAL singles tournament. On the other, so does Hempfield's Madison DeBone — who happens to be her second cousin.
Rather than focus on that potential conflict, however, DeBone is deciding instead to appreciate the quality tennis that will likely be on display either way.
“It's awesome,” DeBone said of the prospect of watching her cousin play. “From watching her when she was younger and how she's developed as a player, I know for a fact from her and her family that (she's dedicated). All these girls are so committed, especially the top girls on each team's ladder. They're awfully committed to doing their best.”
The Section 1-AAA tournament begins Wednesday and will conclude Thursday at either Franklin Regional High School or the Club Sport and Health in Monroeville, depending on the weather.
The tournament features the top two singles players from each team in the section. Wednesday's play includes the preliminary rounds through the semifinals, while the championship and consolation matches will take place Thursday.
Franklin Regional coach Howard Fisher, who oversees the tournament, said it represents a showcase for the top singles players in the section.
“I think the girls think it's very important,” Fisher said. “They want to do their very best with the best players. These are players that they've played throughout the section matches, but in a tournament it's a little different because you're being showcased with all the other girls. I think all the girls want to play their very best for the tournament, especially in front of the fans, the coaches, the parents (and) the families.”
While the competition should be high at section tournaments across the WPIAL on Wednesday and Thursday, that could be especially true in Section 1-AAA. The top four finishers from last season return, led by Franklin Regional's Natalia Perry, who won the tournament and placed third at WPIALs last year.
“I think she's really improved her game,” Fisher said. “Not that she had a lot to improve, but she really is a lot more consistent at groundstroking. She is working on a drop shot now, and I think she has a lot more weapons to go to a WPIAL level this year.”
Vertes took second place last season and lost just one of her singles matches in the first half of this season: to Perry on Monday.
“I'm looking forward to seeing what's going to happen on Wednesday,” Jane DeBone said.
Madison DeBone took third in the section last season, and Norwin's Alexa Holleran placed fourth.
The top three places at the singles tournament will advance to the WPIAL Class AAA singles tournament, which will be played next Wednesday and Thursday at Norwin.
“I love the competition, and I love the pressure and excitement,” Holleran said. “It's hard because I obviously want to make (the WPIAL singles tournament) and have that accomplishment. It's tough because you've got to keep your mental game on and do your best and fight to the end.”