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Franklin Park's Catanzarite captures tennis title

| Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Franklin Park's Ava Catanzarite will compete at the United States Tennis Association Winter Championships in Tucson, Ariz. for boys and girls 12 and 14 years old.
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Franklin Park's Ava Catanzarite will compete at the United States Tennis Association Winter Championships in Tucson, Ariz. for boys and girls 12 and 14 years old.

Coming off a big win, a 14-year-old Franklin Park girl will be after a greater one Dec. 27-Jan. 2 at the United States Tennis Association Winter Championships in Tucson, Ariz. for boys and girls 12 and 14 years old.

Ava Catanzarite took first place in girls 14 singles, plus girls 14 doubles, at the National Selection Tournament Nov. 25-28 in Dayton, Ohio, and drew inspiration from the death of a young relative to do it.

Seeded first, Catanzarite did not drop a set in five singles matches, beating the third seed in the semifinals and the second seed in the final.

She was one of 64 players in the Level 2 tournament.

Only national championship events rank higher.

Catanzarite was ranked 14th in the country by the United States Tennis Association in the Girls 14 division as of Dec. 14. She was first in the Middle States section.

She expects to be among top-seeded players at Winter Nationals and aims for the Gold Ball that will be awarded to the winner.

“That would be the best Christmas gift,” she said.

Budi Susanto, Catanzarite's coach at the Lakevue Athletic Club in Middlesex, Butler County, was not surprised by her victory and said nationals will be a good test.

“Ava has been working very hard to be one of the best players in her grade in the country,” he said. “She has improved every aspect of her game since last year.”

Catanzarite, an eighth grader at a cyber school, said there were days when she did not feel like training after her 15-year-old cousin, Michael Trella of Moon, died unexpectedly in late October.

“I was very sad, and still am, that he is gone,” she said. “He was a lacrosse player and, as an athlete himself, I believed he would want me to do my best.

“I wanted to win (at the National Selection Tournament) for him.”

Catanzarite and Saige Roshkoff of Haverford, Delaware County, were seeded first in doubles and downed the second seed in the final.

Catanzarite, whose father, Jeff, is a Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame member and former Monaca football standout, was one of two southwestern Pennsylvania players to claim National Selection Tournament titles.

Madison Cordisco of Aspinwall was first in girls 12 singles and doubles.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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