GCC tandem wins WPIAL doubles
Greensburg Central Catholic's Samantha DeStefano and Caitlyn Null have had their share of highs and lows in the WPIAL Class AA doubles finals.
This year, the two walked off the court all smiles after a relatively easy time of it, winning their first WPIAL Class AA title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Quaker Valley's Lucy Findley and Elizabeth Harbison at Lakevue Athletic Club in Valencia. Both teams qualified for the PIAA Class AA playoffs Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Hershey Racquet Club.
"Me and Caitlyn have worked so hard for this, and it really pays off when all the hard work you've put in (amounts to) something," DeStefano said. "Me and Caitlyn have gotten far before, but being WPIAL champs is an amazing feeling."
In 2006, the pair lost a three-set match in the semifinals and won a consolation match to qualify for the state finals. Last season ended in disappointment, as they lost to teammates Susie Soltis and Madeline Leo in the Section 1-AA finals, then to Karli and Tonya Timko of Chartiers-Houston, 10-4, in a second-round, pro-set match at the WPIAL tournament.
"It really makes us appreciate it even more," Null said. "We know we worked really hard for it, and every ball that we played, it was such a great feeling."
Though the final score showed the two cruised to victory, the match wasn't without drama. Were it not for a tremendous comeback in the first set, Greensburg Central Catholic may have had to go three sets or even settle for silver.
With Greensburg Central Catholic leading, 3-2, in the first set, DeStefano appeared ready to put Quaker Valley away when she was serving at 40-love. Then came a quick double fault, DeStefano played a shot wide, then double-faulted again to even the game at deuce.
"It's really difficult, because you're thinking in your mind that you've got to get this point," DeStefano said. "It's a critical point, and when you double-fault like that, it breaks you down, but then you know you've got to come back and I'm really good with that."
After holding off a game point in the third deuce, DeStefano hit a winner to give Greensburg Central Catholic a commanding 4-2 lead. The duo then broke Harbison at 30-40, and Null served out a love game to close out the first set.
"When there's pressure, we play better under pressure," Null said. "When it's close, we know it might take awhile to pull it out, but we do."
Beaver's Hannah Williams and Rachel Schartner won the Class AA consolation match, 6-1, 6-0, against Valley's Lisa Snoznik and Courtney Brennan to earn the final berth in the state finals.