Knoch girls tennis wins state title in dominant performance

Saturday, October 31, 2020 | 8:47 PM

The Knoch girls tennis team faced far more pressure this year than it would in a normal season.

In an effort to streamline the playoff process as a coronavirus safety measure, only the WPIAL champion received a berth into the PIAA field. The top three teams usually qualify. Therefore, there was no margin for error. A team stumbles once and its season is done.

On top of that, they had to deal with the covid protocols that turned this season into one unlike any other.

The Knights handled it all beautifully.

Turning in dominant performances in a 5-0 victory over Scranton Prep in the finals and a 3-0 win over Moravian Academy in the finals, Knoch steamrolled to a PIAA Class AA tennis team championship Saturday in Hershey.

“These are still young kids,” coach Nancy Conlon said. “They’re got the pressure of school. They’ve got the pressure of the pandemic. You’ve got all the turmoil in the world today.

“To actually get here, get to play and to come out with the win, incredible is the only word I can come up with. This is my dream team. This was a dream win, at a time where everything was up in the air.”

Knoch’s singles players were particularly impressive. Laura Greb lost a total of one game in two matches. Brooke Bauer dropped a total of two games. Emily Greb lost only three.

In the semifinal win over Scranton Prep, the No. 1 doubles team of Ally Bauer and Ava Santora won handily and the No. 2 team of Jade Nether and Lindsay Greb gutted out a three-set win. They didn’t need to finish their matches in the finals because the outcome was already determined.

“There was drive and determination,” Conlon said. “There was confidence, but a confidence backed up with their skills. They read their opponents, trying to find in that opponent, ‘What am I doing better than they are? What can I capitalize on?’ All of my players were doing that very well.

“You first get out there, everybody’s nervous. But both sides of the net are nervous. Let’s get over the nerves first. Get into our game, get into our rhythm and let’s roll.”

The state title is the crowning achievement for the team’s top two singles players, seniors Laura Greb and Brooke Bauer.

The youth of the rest of the squad has Conlon excited about future seasons as well.

“I’m extremely proud of our captains, Laura and Brooke. They stepped out on the courts four years ago and they haven’t missed one single match, preseason, postseason, anything,” Conlon said. “They’ve been the backbone, and they’re big shoes to fill next year, but we came in with seven freshmen this year. We’ll have a reset year, but we’ve got freshmen that just won a state title. I think they’re going to come back even stronger.”

Jonathan Bombulie is the TribLive assistant sports editor. A Greensburg native, he was a hockey reporter for two decades, covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 17 seasons before joining the Trib in 2015 and covering the Penguins for four seasons, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17. He can be reached at


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