Flexible lineup helps Fox Chapel girls tennis team succeed

Saturday, September 9, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Sophia Carvelli wasn’t disappointed to have to make an adjustment during her senior season. With some nagging shoulder pain slowing her down, Carvelli switched from playing No. 3 singles to doubles to ease some of the workload.

Partnering with fellow senior Maria Marasco has been fun for Carvelli. Playing doubles has involved doing some different things.

“My skills are not as strong at the net than at the baseline,” Carvelli said. “I do like playing at the net. One of the challenges has been getting used to playing with another person. We work well together.”

Fox Chapel’s lineup is fluid. The Foxes are 4-1 overall this season and are 3-0 in Section 3-3A.

Foxes coach Alex Slezak said the lineup wasn’t something set in stone from the beginning of the year.

“I never have any preconceived notions of how the lineup will turn over,” Slezak said. “The kids always compete against each other. I’m happy with the way things have started. We are competing well and the girls are jelling into a team, which is tough in tennis.”

Sienna Siegel plays at No. 1 singles. She split time at the spot spot last season. Anna Kintner plays at the No. 2 spot, while the No. 3 spot is either occupied by Meg Delaney or Carvelli.

Carvelli first started playing varsity during her sophomore season. What she has been focused on since reaching the varsity level is her mechanics.

Carvelli wants all of her skills to be consistent.

“I think the best skill to have at this high of a competition level is to be consistent,” Carvelli said. “A lot of girls’ (serves) are weak and having a strong serve helps.”

Fox Chapel last won the section title in 2021. The Foxes have already gotten a tough test so far this season, losing to North Allegheny, 4-1, on Aug. 31.

Carvelli picked up the lone win for the Foxes against North Allegheny’s Tia Soussnou, 6-1, 6-1. Carvelli said that she and her teammates are all extremely passionate about tennis. They don’t want to let too many points go.

“I think keeping the ball in play relies on technique,” Cavelli said. “That’s all you can do when it comes to consistency. As far as shots to put away, it depends on where you are on the court and where the ball is.”

The WPIAL postseason was set to begin Sept. 13 with the section singles tournament.

“The whole tennis season is so short and compact,” Slezak said. “So many competitions and not enough time to practice. Get better every day and peak when we get to the playoffs. Sometimes adjustments need to be made in the lineup, sometimes kids want to make adjustments to fit better and find a role on the team somewhere else.”


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