Kiski Area tennis players relish trip to WPIAL playoffs

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 | 3:25 PM

Kiski Area girls tennis made some waves this season as the Cavaliers qualified for the WPIAL Class 3A team playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

“Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” coach Trent Goerk said. “These were some of the best girls to coach. Everybody really had a great year and enjoyed playing the game. I just want the kids to enjoy the game.”

Kiski’s veteran tennis coach believed his team would contend for a WPIAL playoff berth this season. His expectation proved true.

“I thought the girls were going to play well enough to give us a shot at the playoffs,” Goerk said. “And they came through like I hoped.”

The Cavaliers were led by the one-two punch of junior Ambur Orowitz and senior Lexiann Colaianni at No. 1 and No. 2 singles.

Orowitz is a three-year varsity player who has held the top singles position since her freshman campaign.

“She had a great season,” Goerk said. “She had a tough go of it her first couple of years. She was able to mature and get a bit better. She played great all season and was able to win some important matches for us.”

Orowitz secured the No. 7 seed for the section tournament, where she defeated Hempfield senior Angela Long in the first round before losing to Franklin Regional junior Ellen Liu in the quarterfinals.

“My season went quite well,” Orowitz said. “There were (opponents) I would normally lose to that I was able to win against, and I felt more comfortable on the court as a whole.

“Our team definitely performed better than we normally do. We made playoffs for the first time in years.”

Orowitz started playing tennis in third grade. She currently has a 4.0 GPA, is a three-year letter winner and maintains an active schedule at Kiski Area.

The junior participates in marching band during the fall, the Cavalier Singers, Jazz Ensemble A, Bible Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Key Club, Concert Band, plays the clarinet and tenor saxophone, and takes private vocal, instrumental and tennis lessons.

“My college plans at this time are undecided, but I would like to minor in music and major in something related to science or math,” Orowitz said. “I have been looking into both Grove City College and Cedarville University. I would like to play tennis in college if it is possible to fit in my schedule.”

Colaianni is a top backcourt player on the Kiski Area girls basketball team. She averaged 8.5 ppg as a freshman but missed all of her sophomore season because of a hip injury. The 5-foot-3 guard averaged 10.1 ppg in 2021-22.

Colaianni was lauded as an A-K Valley Athlete of the Week last year after she made a school-record nine 3-pointers for a game-high 27 points in a 61-37 win over Freeport in her team’s season finale.

Colaianni returned to the KA tennis courts this fall and used her athletic ability to garner the No. 2 position in the lineup. She received the No. 17 seed for the section tournament and beat No. 16 Gabriella Dobransky, an Armstrong senior, to gain a berth in the first round. Penn-Trafford freshman Amelia Williams defeated Colaianni then went on to capture the section championship.

“I’m very happy I decided to play tennis again this year. I wish I would’ve went back sooner,” Colaianni said. “I loved (playing) tennis this year. I played my freshman year then took a break for injury reasons. I wanted to come back and give it a try again my senior year. I made fantastic friendships, have a really good coach and succeeded for not playing for two years.

“I thought our team worked well together while having fun. We made the playoffs and WPIAL doubles, which has not happened in girls tennis at KA in a long time.”

Colaianni has a 4.22 GPA and plans to continue her basketball career and study business at Penn State Altoona.

“I have always loved Penn State,” she said. “Altoona is a beautiful campus where I can play basketball and not be too far away from home.”

In her spare time, Colaianni enjoys deer hunting with her father, Chris, and skiing. She has hunted for four years and has shot nine deer.

“I enjoy going hunting with my dad as a daughter and dad event,” she said.

Seven other girls earned varsity letters for the Cavaliers this season as Goerk utilized the depth on this year’s team on a match-to-match basis.

Seniors Asya Welch and Sabrina Wilson, along with Orowitz and Colaianni, rotated as first and second doubles.

Both sets of players advanced to the section tournament in doubles.

Orowitz and Colaianni, seeded third, defeated opponents from Armstrong and Hempfield to advance to the semifinal round. They lost to the eventual section doubles champions, No. 2 seed junior Ellen Liu and senior Hannah Zheng of Franklin Regional.

Welch and Wilson defeated a Connellsville tandem to gain a berth against No. 1 seed Avery Massaro and Raylor Shanefelder of Latrobe, who placed third.

Kiski’s seventh-year coach mixed and matched five others in his lineup, consisting of seniors Ella McBryde and Savannah Renwick, juniors Lindsay Bush and Makenna Maclean, and Lauren Roolf, a leading freshman prospect.

“I moved things around a lot,” Goerk said. “The girls were interchangeable in the lineup. I moved people around to try to get our best matchups.”

The Cavaliers finished fourth in Section 1-3A with a 5-3 record.

Franklin Regional won the section title with an 8-0 mark, followed by Latrobe (7-1), Penn-Trafford (6-2) and Kiski.

The Cavaliers landed the 14th seed for the WPIAL playoffs, where they lost to No. 3 North Allegheny in the first round.

“For me, being on the tennis team has been a positive experience so far,” Orowitz said. “My teammates are all amazing people, and we can always count on each other for support despite the circumstances.

“And, of course, we love going to Sheetz after our away matches.”


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