Sewickley Academy girls tennis finishes 3rd in WPIAL
The Sewickley Academy girls tennis team (13-5) is focusing on the PIAA Class AA tournament after a disappointing showing at the WPIAL championship last week.
The Panthers placed third, the first time since 2008 they did not reach the final.
They downed Indiana, 4-1, in the consolation match after losing to Neshannock, 3-2, in the semifinals.
It was their first loss of the season against a Class AA team. They were Section 4-AA champion.
In earlier rounds, they shut out Mt. Pleasant and Greensburg Central Catholic.
The top three teams advanced to the PIAA tournament that will begin at regional sites Oct. 25.
Beaver beat Neshannock in the final for its second consecutive WPIAL title.
Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder was proud of the way his team bounced back.
Seniors Emily Ward, Caroline Becker and McKayla Cox competed in singles.
Sophomore Alina Mattson and senior Morgan Recker, and juniors Lydia Elste and Olivia McLeod formed doubles combinations.
“(The girls) responded well to the challenge,” Snyder said. “Instead of being demoralized, they were focused.”
Becker, 17, of Sewickley, said a relaxed approach helped.
“We went into (the) consolation match with the goal just to have fun and play our game,” she said.
“After our (semifinal) match, we knew we could learn from our mistakes.”
Ward, 17, who lives in Beaver, did not want the season to end.
“After the semifinal, we were all disappointed,” she said. “We earned that victory after all of the hard work we've put into this season.
“For states, we believe anything can happen, and we're going to take these next two weeks to work on different aspects of all of our games.”
The Panthers have been WPIAL champions four times since 2008, most recently in 2014.
They have reached the PIAA semifinals or final six times in eight seasons, including last year.
They were PIAA champions in 2011.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.