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Hampton girls tennis team has new goals

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The last time the Hampton girls tennis team made it to the WPIAL quarterfinals, most of the girls on the current team were still in diapers — if they were even born.

The year was 1997. That was the last year the Talbots advanced past the first round, although they made it to the postseason last year, falling to Mt. Lebanon.

That early exit inspired this year's goal: make it to the quarterfinals. Last Thursday the Talbots accomplished that goal by defeating Section 1 champions Hempfield, 4-1. Their run came to an end Monday when the girls lost 5-0 to second-seeded Shady Side Academy.

Coach Grant McKinney gave a plethora of reasons for the team's success. He praised the leadership of his two captains, senior Katie Mueller and junior Rachael Harrison. Lucy Gloninger's strong performance at first singles was also an impetus for the team's triumphs. Gloninger had the most competitive match in the loss against Shady Side as she nearly took the second set before losing in a tiebreaker.

Another key to the Talbots' playoff run was the added depth provided by the second doubles team of freshman Maria Sadek and sophomore Celeste Lueers. Yet the team's most important assets may have been its camaraderie and ability to stay positive and have fun on the court. This enthusiasm and team spirit was important in making every match competitive.

“It was nice that the girls are driven to perform at a higher level,” McKinney said.

It is this desire for improvement, coupled with leadership, depth, and a stellar first singles stalwart, that make next year's goal attainable.

“We want to make it one step further to the semifinals and prove we're one of the top teams in Pittsburgh,” McKinney said.

S.R. Malone is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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