Fox Chapel senior Charlotte James back for WPIAL tennis run

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Monday, September 16, 2019 | 7:05 PM


Charlotte James stepped away from high school tennis in 2018 to concentrate on USTA junior tournaments.

But the Fox Chapel senior, one of the top college prospects in Pennsylvania, is back making waves in the Foxes lineup.

She will be in the hunt for a WPIAL singles title when the Class AAA tournament begins Wednesday at North Allegheny High School.

“I am really excited,” James said. “I’ve played in it twice before, and this is just another opportunity to play my best tennis.”

James is hoping to move past the end point of her last WPIAL singles appearance. She made it to the 2017 quarterfinals but suffered a 10-5 pro-set loss to North Allegheny’s Ashley Huang.

James punched her ticket to this year’s WPIAL bracket with a third-place finish at last week’s Section 3 tournament. She came within an eyelash of the section finals, dropping a close three-set semifinal match to Bethel Park sophomore Mia Gorman, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3).

But the two-time WPIAL and PIAA doubles champion bounced back on her home court with a 6-2, 6-3 consolation-final victory over rival Elle Santora from Shady Side Academy.

James faced Section 3 champion, Baldwin’s Bethany Yauch, in a section match Monday, and she gained additional momentum with a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-6) win.

Yauch and Gorman finished second and third, respectively, at WPIALs last year, and Santora was a quarterfinalist.

The WPIAL brackets for both Class AAA and AA are expected to be released Tuesday and will contain the top four from each section tournament.

From WPIALs, the top three in each tournament qualify for states.

The Class AA tournament starts Wednesday at Shady Side Academy, and Laura Greb is hoping for a WPIAL singles championship three-peat in Class AA.

The Knoch junior steamrolled through last year’s WPIAL tournament, winning 44 of 46 games over four matches. She beat Sewickley Academy’s Simran Bedi, 6-0, 6-1 in the finals.

“Laura will go in confident but not overconfident,” Knights coach Nancy Conlon said. “She knows that she will have to be at her best to repeat or beat what she’s done before.”

Bedi stood in the way of an all-Knoch WPIAL final last year as she topped junior Brooke Bauer 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals. Greb is expected to be the top seed again, while Bauer also could be highly seeded.

“As a coach, it’s a dream goal to have two of your players possibly face each other for the title,” Conlon said. “To reach that level, they will have to go through some pretty tough players. They know they can’t look past anyone.”

Nine of last year’s WPIAL singles competitors return, but Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said Bedi opted not to compete in the section qualifier in favor of concentrating on academic studies.

Greb defeated Bauer 6-0, 6-1 for the section title last Thursday at Alpha Tennis in Harmarville.

“The score really didn’t reflect the level of play,” Conlon said. “Both played amazing tennis. It just happened that Laura was the better player that day.”

Burrell’s Isabella Lane is no stranger to playing in a WPIAL tournament. She teamed with recent graduate McKenzie White in last year’s Class AA doubles draw.

Lane said she is excited to return to WPIALs and this time, test herself with a solo effort.

“Hopefully, I can go at least a few rounds,” Lane said. “I just want to play my best and see what happens.”

Lane scored a pair of pro-set victories at sections to reach the semifinals and secure a spot at WPIALs. She suffered a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Greb in the semifinals.

“It was a great challenge,” Lane said. “You don’t get that opportunity to play against someone like that every day.”

Lane bounced back with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Derry’s Amber Sterrett in the consolation match. She avenged a straight-set loss to Sterrett in Burrell’s section match with Derry on Sept. 3.

“This time, I just focused on making consistent shots, and it worked really well for me,” Lane said.

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

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