Freshman’s smashing debut sparks Pine-Richland tennis team

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Sunday, September 17, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The Pine-Richland girls tennis team is in position for a 22nd consecutive playoff berth, and there’s a freshman that’s leading the charge.

Caroline Prisk has been the Rams’ top singles player and is showing plenty of potential in her first varsity season. She’s helped Pine-Richland start 7-1 on the season and post an undefeated record in Section 2-3A play with two matches remaining.

“She’s a very good player,” Pine-Richland coach Dang Siriprasert said. “Caroline plays in USTA tournaments and plans to play in college, so she practices six days a week. She works with her private coach and she comes in and works with us. Her universal tennis ranking is 6.5, which is really good for a freshman. To get to NCAA Division I, you need a 12, so she’s off to a good start to working her way there. She’s also a very nice person. Everybody loves her.”

Prisk and sophomore Deeya Nayyar represented the Rams at the Section 2-3A singles tournament Sept. 13.

Prisk was the top seed at sectionals and advanced to the final on Sept. 14, which was past the deadline for this edition. She defeated Shaler’s Paige Sigmund, 10-0, in the first round, North Allegheny’s Payton Mauser, 10-3, in the quarterfinals and Seneca Valley’s Kylie Staudt, 6-0, 6-1, in the semifinals. She faced North Hills’ Elinor Kim in the championship match.

Nayyar was the No. 10 seed and upset Butler’s Alison Smith, 10-7, in the first round before falling to Kim, 10-0, in the quarterfinals.

Rachel Smith, a senior, has been the team’s No. 3 singles player. Kendall Kirkland, who was the team’s top singles player last year, took the season off, but Siriprasert said she plans to return for her senior season.

Smith and Nayyar will team up for the section doubles tournament later this month. Kiana Strahotin and Samy Ravichandran will be the other doubles team. Strahotin and Ravichandran are both seniors.

Elizabeth Anthony and Braylee Rowe have been a doubles team for the Rams in matches.

Siriprasert also complimented freshman Addison Cohen and sophomore Priya Shah for their improvement this season.

The Rams have beaten North Catholic, Moon, Mars, Butler, Shaler, Hampton and North Hills. The wins over Butler, Shaler and North Hills were 5-0 sweeps. The lone loss came against Bethel Park, 4-1. Prisk was the lone Ram to win against the Black Hawks.

Section matches against Seneca Valley and North Allegheny remain.

The Rams have been a model of consistency under veteran coach Siriprasert. She said they try to provide a calm atmosphere at practices, which has been a key to the culture within the program.

“Our philosophy is that we just want them to be happy,” Siriprasert said.

“We know school brings lots of homework and stress, so we just want them to relax and do the best they can. If they follow our direction, they will be good, because they practice every day and are focused.

”We have team bonding events and if it’s raining, we go inside and work on some sports psychology things. It’s really simple things, but it’s important. Another thing is that anyone on our team can be a leader. We really don’t have captains, but anyone from ninth grade up can lead. I let them lead their own warmups and stretches. They enjoy their teammates. Everybody on the team is nice to each other.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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