Area tennis players shine at Fox Chapel Junior Open
After a one-year hiatus because of last summer’s flooding, the 22nd annual Fox Chapel Junior Open returned home.
Last year, the tournament was forced to move to Mt. Lebanon.
Fox Chapel rising sophomore Carissa Shepard claimed the Girls 16 singles title and teamed with Fox Chapel freshman Catherine Petrovich to win the Girls 18 doubles championship.
In the singles final, Shepard defeated Rachel Ekanem of Moundsville, W.Va., by scores of 7-6 (4), 7-5. She and Petrovich rolled to the doubles crown with an 8-2 victory over Sofia Smith and Katie Voigt.
“I felt good about my game,” Shepard said. “I got nervous like in any tournament situation, but I moved past it. I told myself that I had been working so hard all summer, and I wasn’t going to lose this opportunity.”
Shepard’s singles win boosted her confidence heading into the high school season.
“I had played Rachel in the finals last year, too. She’s a very good player. She beat me pretty easily, so my win this year showed me how much I had improved my game.”
Alex Slezak, Shepard’s coach at Fox Chapel, was not surprised by the play of his talented sophomore.
“She has the potential to be a great player. She has a great deal of growth left in her game, physically and mentally. Her strengths lie in her work ethic, serve and forehand along with desire and determination.”
In other results involving local players, Michael Kilmer of Fox Chapel finished second in the Boys 18 bracket after falling to Zidaan Hasson of Monroeville, 6-3, 6-1.
Will Siegel won the Boys 14 singles, and his brother Frank was a finalist in Boys 12. Both are members of the Fox Chapel Racquet Club.
“It was great to have the tournament back in Fox Chapel,” tournament chairman Tom Benic said.
“Scott Kahler runs a fine tournament, and I’m sure it will be bigger and better next year.”
Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.