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Injury halts WPIAL girls singles run for Gateway's Memije

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
Gateway’s Sammy Memije withdrew from her quarterfinal match at the WPIAL AAA singles tournament because of a knee injury.

After winning the Section 3-AAA singles tournament in dominating fashion on Sept. 12, Gateway sophomore Sammy Memije had high hopes for last week's WPIAL singles championships.

However, a nagging knee injury scuttled her plans in the tournament's quarterfinal round.

Memije gutted out a 10-2 victory over Penn-Trafford's Charlotte Vertes in the first round at Norwin High School.

She faced Pine-Richland's Yvon Martinez in the quarterfinals. Martinez led Memije, 7-0, in the pro-set match before Gateway head coach Rochelle Seilhamer said she decided to pull the plug.

“I could tell she wasn't the same Sammy,” Seilhamer said.

“She got through the first round, but her serves were deep. Her forehand's pretty deadly, and she couldn't plant that leg and hit the shot she wanted.

“She couldn't run and was reaching for balls. She was hitting everything out. You just can't play that way against these girls. When it became 7-0, I said it was over. I wasn't going to risk her getting hurt worse.”

Martinez went on to finish fourth overall. The top three finishers advanced to the PIAA tournament in Hershey.

Top seed Callie Frey from Mt. Lebanon beat Martinez in straight sets in the semifinals and upended Pine-Richland's Marlys Bridgham in three sets in the championship match.

“Sammy was pretty disappointed,” Seilhamer said. “She really wants to represent Gateway and bring home championships for her teammates and her school. I told her that those things happen. But she has two more years to get there. It's not the end of the world.”

Memije, Seilhamer said, tweaked the knee during a Friday match at a USTA Level 5 Girls 18 singles tournament at the Oxford Athletic Club in Franklin Park.

During tournament play, Memije went three sets with the No. 1 seed before losing.

“For her to push that No. 1 seed to three sets was great,” Seilhamer said.

“There were a lot of great players there from all over the state. She's only 15 and was one of the youngest players in the tournament.”

Gateway suffered a 5-0 loss to Fox Chapel on Monday, and the Gators fell to 4-6 in Section 3 play.

The Gators host Woodland Hills in Section 3 action Friday at 3:30 p.m. and travel to Shady Side Academy on Monday for a 4:15 p.m. section contest.

Gateway hosts Plum in a doubleheader of sorts at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Gateway High School courts.

The teams will complete a match suspended from Sept. 9 and then play a full match. It will be the final section contest for both.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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