Knoch twins, Latrobe duo collect WPIAL doubles gold

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Thursday, October 7, 2021 | 5:29 PM


For the second year in a row, sisters from Knoch rule the roost in WPIAL Class 2A doubles.

Last year, it was Brooke and Ally Bauer taking home gold.

On Thursday, it was sophomore twins Emily and Lindsey Greb who put it all together to capture a championship.

The Grebs, the No. 1 seed, held off the charge of the second-seeded Sewickley Academy combination of freshman Kirsten Close and senior Roshni Thakkar, 6-4, 6-3.

“It just came down to communicating really well with each other and pumping each other up after every point,” Emily Greb said. “This is an awesome feeling.”

The Grebs led 3-0 and 4-1 in the first set before Close and Thakkar came back to tie it at four games apiece. But the Grebs held serve to 5-4 and then broke serve to close out the set.

Each team broke the other’s serve early in the second set before the Grebs forged ahead 5-2. Close and Thakkar held serve for 5-3 before the Grebs did the same to close out the set and the match.

“We really worked super hard to win this,” Lindsey Greb said. “(Close and Thakkar) are both really consistent players, and they serve really well. They made us work for every point.”

The participants in both the Class 3A and 2A championship matches already knew they had clinched a spot in the PIAA bracket at Hershey the weekend of Nov. 6 based on their semifinal victories Wednesday.

In Class 3A, the Latrobe senior duo of Jenna Bell and Carolina Walters, runners-up in the doubles draw two years ago, teamed up again and captured WPIAL gold with a 6-3, 6-3 win over the Shady Side Academy combo of sophomores Elana Sobol and Rachel Nath.

The winner of each consolation match Thursday also punched a ticket to states. Multiple qualifiers from the WPIAL again will advance after covid logistical restrictions last year forced the PIAA to accept only the district champions.

Emily Greb will head to states for doubles after missing out in the WPIALs singles draws the past two years.

She finished fourth in this year’s singles tournament, one place away from a qualifying berth. Last year, she was third overall but was denied the opportunity at Hershey.

“I wouldn’t want to go to states with anyone else,” Emily Greb said with a smile as she flashed a quick glance over to her equally smiling sister. “I am very happy that we will have the opportunity to compete at states and go as far as we can. I am super excited to see what’s next.”

The Greb sisters also had a special fan in attendance as older sister Laura was home on fall break to watch them win the title. Laura, a freshman on the women’s tennis team at the University of Dayton, captured four WPIAL Class 2A singles titles through her senior year in 2020 and helped the Knights win WPIAL and PIAA team titles last fall.

The teams from Knoch and Sewickley Academy will be joined at Class 2A states by the Montour combination of senior Madilyn Rimbey and freshman Peja Cruise. The No. 4 seed won the consolation match 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 over No. 3 Chloe DeSanzo and Fiona Rubino of Beaver.

Wildcats strike for gold

When Peters Township senior Kat Wang finished runner-up at the Class 3A singles tournament two weeks ago, it guaranteed new WPIAL Class 3A doubles champions.

Wang and junior Marra Bruce captured the gold medals the past two years.

This year, Bell and Walters, who fell to Wang and Bruce in the 2019 finals, reunited to put together a solid championship match Thursday in the straight-set triumph.

“This is so amazing to be able to win the WPIAL title and also do it with Carolina,” said Bell, who will make her fourth overall trip to states. “It was great to finally win it after being so close a couple of times. We played amazing today with a lot of good teamwork.”

Bell and Walters held a 4-3 lead over Sobol and Nath in the first set before holding and breaking serve to close out the 6-3 win.

The Wildcats duo rallied in the second set to put the championship medals around their necks.

“That was a really tough match. They are definitely the best team we’ve played so far,” Walters said. “Both (Sobol and Nath) can hit really hard, and they had different shot variations that challenged us and kept us on our toes. It was a good feeling the way we came together and worked hard to get the win.”

Bell and Walters advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals two years ago.

“We both have different games, but the thing that brings us together and makes us a strong is that our positive attitudes on the court,” said Bell, who finished fourth in the WPIAL singles tournament two weeks ago.

As a freshman, Bell, teaming with the now-graduated Addison Kemmerer, placed third at WPIAL doubles before falling in the first round of states.

Both Bell and Walters were key parts of Latrobe’s run to the WPIAL team title and PIAA runner-up finish last year.

“Our previous experiences at states should really help with the nerves this time around,” Bell said. “Now that we are WPIAL champions, we will have a better draw. It should give us more momentum.”

The Moon senior duo of Maria Lounder and Amanda Koren, the No. 6 seed, also will play in Hershey after capturing the Class 3A consolation match with a three-set victory, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, over the North Allegheny team of juniors Emily Wincko and Abbey Swirsding.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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