Fox Chapel’s Carissa Shepard captures first section singles title

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Saturday, September 26, 2020 | 11:01 AM


As a sophomore last season, Fox Chapel junior Carissa Shepard played her way into the quarterfinals of the Section 3-AAA singles tournament by defeating Jenna Chernicky from Bethel Park, 10-4.

Although Shepard lost in the quarters to Elle Santora from Shady Side Academy, she went on to play in championship matches in both the section doubles championships and the WPIAL and PIAA team championships.

On Sept. 18, Shepard had the opportunity to pull all of that experience together as she defeated Shady Side Academy freshman Elana Sobol, 6-0, 6-3, in the Section 3-AAA singles championship to capture her first singles title.

“It felt good to win the title because I haven’t won it before, but when I won, it definitely didn’t feel real to me,” Shepard said. “I left my house that Friday to play in the finals, and I was like, ‘Whoa, wait, I’m in the finals. I’m playing for the section title right now.’ So it was a good experience, but it was also kind of crazy that I actually won.”

Shepard cruised through the section tournament with ease. She beat Abbie Mroz of Woodland Hills, 10-0, then defeated Baldwin’s Emma Sakai, 10-2, to punch her ticket to the semifinals, which was where she ran into a little bit of a challenge.

Her first set with Shady Side Academy sophomore Nichole Poltinnikov went into a tiebreaker, and Shepard came out on top 7-6 (5). Then the talented junior went on to win the second set, 6-3, which set up her finals match with Sobol.

Throughout the two-day tournament, Shepard thought she did a few things well that contributed to her section title but said the main factor was her consistency on the court.

“It helped me win a lot of points because I wasn’t making errors in my game,” Shepard said. “So, keeping the ball in play, I was able to gain the wins.”

Shepard said she was also able to draw on her experience from playing in the PIAA team tournament last year. During Fox Chapel’s title match, Shepard completed a comeback and rallied back from a first-set loss to defeat Sophia Koons from Downingtown West at No. 2 singles, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

“States last year definitely gave me a little more focus because at states, everyone is cheering, there are a lot of matches going on, and there are tons of people watching,” Shepard said. “So, it makes you focus on your match more and block out everything else going on. That definitely helped me during this match because I was able to focus on the match and not worry about everything else and just keep it going.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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