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Defending champion Quaker Valley advances in WPIAL playoffs

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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Members of the Quaker Valley tennis team, from left, Emma McCormish, Lydia Sopp, Farrah Bojalad, Emily Veeck, Caroline Steliotes, Isa Hubsch, Emily Kraus, celebrate their MAC championship.

The Quaker Valley girls tennis team (9-4 overall, 8-2 in Section 6-AA) has lower expectations in the WPIAL playoffs than it did a year ago, when it won the title.

The Quakers, overcoming a loss in second doubles, beat Thomas Jefferson, 4-1, in the first round to advance to the quarterfinals, where they met South Park earlier this week. The winner will face Greensburg Central Catholic or Indiana in the semifinals, also this week. Results were not available before this edition's deadline.

“Last year, we were star-driven by Spencer Caravaggio, with a good supporting cast,” said Christi Hays, who took over as head coach after serving as a volunteer assistant a year ago. “This year, we are an ensemble cast.

“To win, we need production from everybody. We still haven't had that one great match where everybody has played to their full potential.

“We'll be happy just to make states.”

The top three teams will qualify for the PIAA championship, scheduled to begin next week.

Sophomore Farrah Bojalad replaced Caravaggio — a two-time WPIAL singles champion who plays for Duquesne University — at first singles. Bojalad and third singles player Emily Veeck, a senior, posted easy wins in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

But senior Caroline Steliotes needed three sets to win at second singles.

The first doubles team of senior Isa Hubsch and sophomore Emily Kraus came from behind and also won in three sets.

Seniors Lydia Sopp and Emma McCormish played second doubles.

Hays said the Quakers have to be more competitive.

“They're a very sweet bunch of girls,” Hays said. “I've had to toughen them up.”

Players agreed mental toughness has been a problem.

“It's something we have to work on,” Steliotes said.

“Teamwork is strong, but we have to stay focused,” Veeck said.

Hays considers Sewickley Academy, which beat the Quakers twice in section play, an overwhelming favorite to win the WPIAL title. The Panthers were WPIAL runners-up a year ago.

“With the WPIAL singles champion (Samantha Gohh) and doubles champions (Amy Cheng and Jappmann Monga), Sewickley Academy is very strong,” Hays said. “It will take a minor miracle to beat them.”

“Sewickley Academy is going to be tough to beat,” Steliotes agreed.

Quaker Valley has been WPIAL champion twice in the past three years.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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