North Allegheny girls tennis champs have a bright future
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The future is looking bright for the North Allegheny girls tennis program.
After winning their first WPIAL title and second PIAA state title in school history this season, it shouldn't come as a surprise if the young Tigers continue to fill the school's trophy case and hang banners in the gym.
“After we secured the win against Shady Side (Academy), one of my first contacts was to my athletic director (Bob Bozzuto),” coach Michelle Weniger said about the AAA championship game. “I texted him and said, ‘We won. Can we get our banner now?'
“He said, ‘I'm ordering it right now.' It was one of those moments that as a coach I will never forget.”
Most teams that cruise through Class AAA WPIAL and state competition are forced to restock their rosters. That won't be the case with this North Allegheny team. The Tigers will have to replace seniors Maddy Adams and Jenn Hoffman, but a solid, youthful foundation will alleviate the challenge.
Freshman twin sisters Anna and Tina Li stepped up playing as the No. 2 and 3 singles line this year, and, Weniger said, additional practice coupled with postseason experience will prove vital to the pair.
“What a fantastic addition to our program to have two sisters that are very talented, very strong physically and mentally,” she said. “They played solid for us when plugged in, and I had no doubt that if we avoided injuries that they would help carry us.”
This season's No. 2 doubles team of Catherine Zhang and Sydney Boyd will enter their senior years as experienced leaders who will continue to pave the way for the upcoming class. Both Zhang and Boyd said they can't wait to get back on the court and add on to the North Allegheny tradition.
“I think next year as a senior, the biggest thing is to keep the team's spirit up,” Zhang said. “That's one of the things that brought us together this year. With every match, there wasn't a time we weren't supporting each other.”
Added Boyd: “I think we have a couple girls on the team this year that were unsure about how they would be, but the fact that we won the WPIAL and came out of the state is a definite good thing.
“We were so sad when it was over. We can't wait to come back next year and try it again.”
Rounding out the starting rotation was sophomore Tristyn Maalouf — another talented youngster Weniger has high hopes for in the years to come.
“With her age, between this year and next year, she will become a stronger, obviously more seasoned tennis player based on the experience she had with high school tennis,” she said. “She's one of those girls who never puts the racquet down.
“We will be very, very fortunate to have her return for years to come.”
Weniger said she realizes that there's a bull's-eye that comes with being the champion. The team, however, showed a mental toughness all season that has her mind at ease knowing the players can compete at the highest level, she said.
“They're a good mix of personalities on the team and so I think that they will welcome the challenge,” Weniger said. “I think they will take the opportunity during the offseason to improve their games because they did go to states and know that the level of competition is accelerated when you are playing the best in the state.
“If teams say a target is on our chest, we're just going to have play our best tennis.”
Brian Graham is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.