Freshmen bring spark to Greensburg Central Catholic girls tennis program

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | 10:09 AM


Denise Cefola-Guzik remembers the good old days of Greensburg Central Catholic girls tennis and hopes the 2021 season will return a once-proud program to prominence.

The Centurions finished second to Valley in Section 1-2A with a 6-1 record, making the Class 2A team playoffs for the first time since 2018.

Cefola-Guzik is in her third season back with the program after leading the Centurions from 1992-94, a stretch that included a 124-match winning streak for Greensburg Central Catholic.

“Then tennis kind of fell off for a little bit, but I think we’re back at it again,” said Cefola-Guzik, a 1987 graduate of the school. “We haven’t made the playoffs in a couple of years, but this year is our year. We made it.”

Addy Kreutel and Sasha Hoffman are freshmen who have made a massive, immediate impact as the first and third singles players.

“It’s huge. I think we surprised everybody,” Cefola-Guzik said of the injection of youth. “(Opponents) weren’t expecting it. They’re ringers. They hit that ball a ton. Anyone we faced, everyone was shocked. We have these two freshmen, and they’ll be here three more years after this. They’re very, very strong players.”

Gigi Pediconi, a junior, also has performed well.

“She’s a co-captain,” Cefola-Guzik said. “She was my No. 1 (singles player) last year, and she’s fine at No. 2. But she’s a leader on the team.”

In the section’s individual tournament, Kreutel beat Jeannette’s Sophia Marcelli in the first round before losing to Valley’s Rachel Schrock, 11-9. Schrock went on to finish as runner-up. Pediconi, meanwhile, lost in the first round of the sectional bracket.

“It’s not just about winning. It’s about teaching these kids how to play the game and how to stay focused on the sport and really try to drive themselves,” Cefola-Guzik said. “This team worked so hard this year.”

What makes the 6-1 record even more impressive? The Centurions have only seven players, the minimum amount needed to compete.

“We went the whole season with no injuries, no sicknesses,” Cefola-Guzik added. “We’re doing it with seven.”

Seniors Emma Riley and Juliette Steffensen make up the top doubles team, and the second pair features a senior, Krista McWilliams, and a junior, Skye Guzik, who is the daughter of Cefola-Guzik.

“Both of my doubles teams are strong,” Cefola-Guzik said. “You’ve got to have doubles. You can’t just have singles.”

Beyond their play on the court, Cefola-Guzik has been pleased with the family atmosphere that has grown in the program.

“They are super close, from seniors to freshmen,” she said. “They push each other. They never give up on their teammates. These girls, they believe in each other, and they run as a team.”

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