Hempfield tennis set to battle rival Latrobe for section title

Sunday, September 22, 2019 | 5:50 PM

The date is circled.

Hempfield’s girls tennis team plays Sept. 30 at rival Latrobe with sole possession of the Section 1-AAA title on the line. Both teams are 7-0.

The Spartans have rolled past Norwin, Franklin Regional, Armstrong, Connellsville, Kiski Area, Gateway and Penn-Trafford in section play.

“I wanted our team to be competitive and to give 100-percent effort in every match,” coach Jerry Way said. “They have met our goal.”

Hempfield also won a pair of nonsection matches over Holidaysburg and Greensburg-Salem to post a 9-0 overall mark.

“The team has played above and beyond my expectations,” Way said. “The young ladies on this team all have performed at a high level. Their biggest strength is they pick each other up when one teammate is having a rough time.”

The Spartans, who finished second in the section at 7-1 last year, are led by sophomore Alexis Smith, senior captain Maura Harbaugh and junior Olivia Shafer at the first, second and third singles positions.

As a trio, Harbaugh (7-0), Shafer (6-1) and Smith (5-2) have won 18 of 21 matches against section opponents.

“I expected us to do well, but no one expected us to go undefeated,” Harbaugh said. “The girls all have been practicing extremely hard, and I am proud of what we have accomplished.

“Myself and Anna Maselli both support the girls on and off the court and try our best to help the girls have fun while still staying on task. We have helped the girls to grow, and I can say on both of our behalfs that we have loved seeing each player improve her game and have fun.”

Harbaugh is a three-year letterwinner in tennis. Off the court, her focus is on academics. She has a 4.0-plus GPA, serves as vice president of the Science National Honor Society and is involved the the National and French honor societies.

She also is the founder and president of the Hempfield Environmental Committee.

“So far this season, I would say Norwin was our toughest opponent and one of our best matches overall,” Harbaugh said. “I expect us to finish strong and enjoy the time we have left together on the court.

“Whether we win or lose, being able to play tennis with such an amazing group of girls is an honor in itself.”

The Spartans’ No. 1 doubles tandem consists of junior Claire Bryan and senior co-captain Maselli. Juniors Corinne Bringe and Brooklyn Verillen make up the No. 2 doubles unit.

Top reserves include junior Kaylee Urban, as well as seniors Ava Maholic and Alyssa Shank.

Sydney Repasky, who was competing at second doubles, is sidelined with an injury.

“For the past two seasons, we have not had the same lineup due to graduations,” Way said. “The young ladies have all stepped up to assume their new positions and have performed admirably.

“If there is a problem, any of these young ladies are ready to step in to help our team.”


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