Hampton girls tennis geared for future success
By: Devon Moore
Friday, September 28, 2018 | 8:57 AM
Senior nights typically are known for gathering the seniors together before the match. But the scene was a little different for Hampton’s contest versus Butler on Sept. 24.
With star freshman Madison Cordisco healthy, the team and coach Grant McKinney concocted a lineup where all senior players were paired in doubles.
That left all three singles spots to three talented freshmen — Cordisco, Gabrielle Miller and Megan Kang.
“It was fun to see the new and talented ladies out there,” McKinney said. “And then on separate courts the seniors, who have worked really hard and provided us excellent depth and leadership. Just a neat experience and fun match.”
The match, however, was postponed by rain halfway through. Likewise, with the loss of Cordisco to shoulder tendonitis until mid-September, the team’s plans of having an individual WPIAL qualifier were dampened.
“I think our season has been pretty good considering we had a lot of injuries,” said senior captain Lehka Pendyala, who has been a starter on the first doubles pairing the past two seasons.
“We had a lot of injuries, and our best player was out for most of the season. I think we’ve been playing well and fighting throughout the match, keeping our intensity levels high.”
Pendyala spent a portion of her season paired with doubles partner Rachel Weber. Senior Rachel McGinley and junior Allie Crist also contributed. With Cordisco’s return, senior Grace Kang jumped into doubles, as well.
“We’re good friends, and we communicate well,” said Pendyala of Kang, who played with her at the 2017 section doubles tournament. “She’s really well-rounded and set me up a lot at the net, so we pair really well together.”
McKinney was proud of Pendyala’s leadership throughout the season.
“She really cares and works hard,” he said. “It’s a neat thing to have a captain like that who has high expectations. Sometimes it’s a learning experience. … I’ve been impressed with her maturity and her ability to lead and respond to adversity, come back the next match and shine.”
Freshman Gabrielle Miller finished 7-4 in singles. Both she and Grace Kang (5-6) made the second round of section sectionals.
“She got seeded, which is saying something for the coaches to recognize you as a freshman,” McKinney said. “She had a long, competitive match through about two-thirds of the match.”
Miller teamed with Cordisco, the No. 1-ranked freshman in the state according to Tennis Recruiting Network, in doubles with hopes of advancing to WPIALs.
“They wanted to play together,” McKinney said. “It’s a unique storyline this year. I think they developed a friendship and are excited to play together.”
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.