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Fox Chapel wins state tennis tourney

| Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004

Fox Chapel's girls tennis team made history Saturday, winning the school's first state team tennis title, and giving up only two points all season.

In front of a packed house at the Blair Racquet Club, the Lady Foxes defeated Lower Merion, 4-1, in the PIAA Class AAA team tennis championship.

Fox Chapel coach Emma Dieffenbach predicted the win before the season started.

"I knew we could do it," Dieffenbach said. "This is great. This is what we worked for all season. We did it as a team, all 19 of us."

Fox Chapel's No. 1 singles player Vanessa Steiner defeated Courtney Ferimor, 7-5, 4-6, 5-2. Ferimor defaulted in the third set after she realized Fox Chapel won the tournament.

Amanda Campbell, the No. 2 singles player, put the Lady Foxes over the top defeating Kristen Roth 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. Campbell was down 5-1 in the third set, but rallied back to give Fox Chapel the match.

"I just told myself that we worked too hard to get here not to win it all," Campbell said. "It gave me the strength and energy to pull it out."

Fox Chapel's No. 3 singles player Meghan Damico was defeated by Julie Raezer, 3-6, 6-7 (3-7). Raezer is ranked No. 2 in the state by the United States Tennis Association.

Elyse Steiner and Sarah Short defeated Carla Rotfield and Andrea Dumitrescu, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 in No. 1 doubles.

Steiner played through back pain to finish the match. She was the Lady Foxes No. 1 singles player before she sustained a back injury in the section singles match.

Steiner was cleared by her doctor just in time for the section team tournament, but she is only allowed to play doubles at this time.

"It was really hard to play two back-to-back matches," Steiner said. "My back was really hurting, but I knew I had to do it for the team."

Fox Chapel's No. 2 doubles team of Sarah Dieffenbach and Raechel Calderone defeated Leslie Golden and Grace Hollander, 6-2, 6-2.

"We played with a lot of heart," Calderone said. "That was all we needed."

Dieffenbach never wavered in her faith in the team. All seven starting players are ranked by the United States Tennis Association.

"We are the state champions," the veteran coach said. "We deserve to be."

Team captain Chelsey Calderone told her team all they needed to do was play with heart.

"I told them the only day is today," Chelsey Calderone said. "We have to play with heart. Play our best. Who cares if it hurts. We can do it."

The celebration erupted when the team stormed the court after Amanda Campbell won her match.

"Fox Chapel was well represented here," Dieffenbach said. "Some of the players had three generations of family here to cheer them on."

Lower Merion has been the runner-up in the state tournament the past four years.

Earlier in the day, the Lady Foxes defeated Hempfield, 5-0, in the semifinals.

"The team was so calm, cool and collected," Dieffenbach said. "They shined on the court, fought and played with all their hearts. We are the champions. I knew we would be."

A celebration is planned to honor the Lady Foxes at the high school, but the date has not yet been announced.

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