Knoch’s Laura Greb captures third straight AA singles title; Fox Chapel’s Charlotte James wins AAA crown
Thursday, September 19, 2019 | 6:43 PM
For the third year in a row, Knoch’s Laura Greb went home with the WPIAL Class AA singles tennis crown, but this one had a different feel.
“It feels amazing,” Greb said. “But I have mixed emotions right now, but I’m super happy about it.”
For the second time in as many weeks, Greb’s teammate, Brooke Bauer, was standing on the opposite side of the court as the two competed for a title. Last week, it was the Section 3-AA championship.
This week, Greb’s third-straight WPIAL championship was on the line and she didn’t hold back. After giving up one of the first three games in their first set, Greb cruised to a 6-1 first-set victory. Then, in the second set, Bauer was able steal two games away from her fellow Knight, but Greb never loosened her stranglehold on the match completely and finished it off with a 6-2 match-winning set.
“Staying calm was big because there were a lot of nerves playing my own teammate,” Greb said. “But I just needed to stay calm and play my game and stick to my game plan. It helped a lot.”
The two teammates have been in this position before. They play each other each day in practice, and they also met in the Section 3-AA singles championship last year before squaring off in the WPIAL semifinals a week later. When it comes to playing each other in a competitive atmosphere, it’s different.
“We both will play around, have fun and joke around during practice,” Greb said. “But with a match, it’s more serious, so it’s more intense.”
With the WPIAL singles title out of the way, Greb is off to the Class AA PIAA tournament to attempt to claim a trophy she hasn’t yet, a state title. The past two years, she’s lost to the same person, Brenna Magliochetti from Bethlehem Catholic. Magliochetti’s graduation leaves a lane open for Greb and she has an idea of what she needs to do to take her next step.
“I think I just have to stick with my game plan and give 100 percent whenever I am on the court,” Greb said.
It was an accomplishment that James had set her sights on after returning to the team this year. As a freshman and a sophomore, she and teammate Amanda Nord won WPIAL and PIAA doubles championships. With no one else on the court to rely on, this title felt special.
“It’s definitely more exciting,” James said. “With singles, you’re proving yourself as the best singles player in Western Pennsylvania, so it’s a little bit of bigger deal. I love playing doubles, but singles is a different game and I am proud of myself for accomplishing this.”
After her first two seasons on Fox Chapel’s tennis team, James elected to play circuit tennis last year. It allowed her to travel and play against tough competition on big stages, which in turn prepared her to return this year.
“That definitely helped. I think it was necessary for my tennis development,” James said. “I think I got great experience from doing that and I came back this year with more self confidence and I was ready to do it.”
That confidence paid off in her match against Yauch when she battled back from an 0-2 deficit to take the first set. The two seniors battled back and forth all afternoon at Shady Side Academy, but after overcoming that first deficit, James never looked back and won in straight sets.
“I think I just needed to settle into the match,” James said. “She came out and was playing some really good tennis, so I knew I was in for a battle and a fight because she never gives up and she’s really tough. So, I just did what I needed to do today.”
James is happy with capturing her third WPIAL championship, but she has her sights set on accomplishing even more in the state tournament.
“This is a good milestone for me, but I think I can keep developing mentally and physically and just as a player,” James said.
In the consolation matches on Thursday, South Park’s Nicole Kempton defeated Sewickley Academy’s Christina Walton, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 to place third in AA. Bethel Park’s Mia Gorman defeated Peters Township’s Kat Wang, 6-0, 6-1 to captured third in the AAA tournament.
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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