Doubles teams gear up for WPIAL tournament

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Monday, September 30, 2019 | 4:14 PM


During the Knoch girls tennis team’s quest for a Section 3-AA championship this fall, senior Libby Conlon and freshman Ally Bauer find themselves on different courts for matches.

Conlon is at No. 1 doubles, while Bauer plays at No. 3 singles.

But last week, when the duo drew on past experiences as partners for competition at the section doubles tournament, the result was a championship.

Conlon and Bauer now hope the momentum gained from their 6-3, 6-2 Section 3 finals victory over Burrell’s Isabella Lane and Madyson Radvansky can propel them to a productive finish at the WPIAL championships, set to begin Wednesday at Shady Side Academy.

“I’ve played with and against Ally a lot, and I think that gives us an advantage because we know each other’s games really well,” Conlon said. “That familiarity really helps us when we team together. We also really support and pump each other up. That gives us a lot of energy on the court.”

The pairings for both the Class AA and AAA doubles tournaments are to be released Tuesday, and the Alle-Kiski Valley has five teams in action over the two days.

In addition to the Knoch and Burrell teams, Valley will have two entries in the Class AA field — seniors Madison and Casey Gatto, as well as senior Aimee Johnson and sophomore Eden Richey.

Fox Chapel sophomore Carissa Shepard makes her return to the WPIAL Class AAA doubles tournament, and she will team with freshman Catherine Petrovich. They begin play Wednesday at North Allegheny.

Both the Class AA and AAA tournaments conclude Thursday. The top three finishers in each bracket qualify for the PIAA championships Nov. 1-2 at the Hershey Racquet Club.

“There is so much talent out there, but we’re confident we can make a run at the state tournament,” Conlon said. “No matter what happens, it should be such an amazing experience.”

Lane, who also competed at the WPIAL singles championship two weeks ago, is no stranger to the doubles tournament.

The senior made her debut in last year’s draw, teaming with McKenzie White. The duo suffered a first-round loss to a team from Blackhawk.

Radvansky, a senior, will compete at WPIALs for the first time.

Valley is one of three schools with two teams in the Class AA field, joining Sewickley Academy and Beaver Area.

The Gatto sisters topped Johnson and Richey in the Section 3 consolation final.

“This is important for our team because it shows the depth of our entire program,” Valley coach Rachel Link said. “I am not surprised that both teams made it to WPIALs because they are smart and strategic players who understand what it takes to do well at doubles tennis.”

Fox Chapel is known for its success in WPIAL Class AAA doubles tournaments, and Shepard and Petrovich hope to keep that going.

Shepard is the Foxes’ No. 2 singles player and Petrovich plays No. 3 singles, but the duo drew on their experience teaming together in junior tournaments to find success at last week’s Section 3 qualifier.

They made it to the finals before falling in three sets to the Shady Side Academy combination of senior Ella Santora and junior Renee Long.

“We’re pretty excited for WPIALs,” Shepard said. “I think Catherine and I make a pretty strong team, and we have a good chance to go far. We communicate well and are always talking and planning for each point.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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