Knoch’s Laura Greb claims 4th WPIAL singles title

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Friday, September 25, 2020 | 6:36 PM


Laura Greb is all alone in the history books of WPIAL girls tennis.

Under sunny skies Friday afternoon at North Allegheny High School, the Knoch senior captured her fourth WPIAL Class AA singles championship. She swept two sets from South Park sophomore Nicole Kempton, 6-1, 6-3.

“I am just at a loss for words right now,” Greb said shortly after leaving the court. “This feels amazing. I am super happy to be able to accomplish that.”

In her four championship runs, Greb didn’t lose a single set.

She rolled to the win in Set 1 and rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Kempton in the second set. Greb broke Kempton’s serve to tie the set and held serve to take the lead for good.

“It was a super tough (final) point,” Greb said. “It was a long one for sure. I was just telling myself, ‘Hit every ball back. Hit every ball back.’ And I was able to.”

The Class AA final was a rematch of a 2019 semifinal. Kempton placed third last year and qualified for states.

Under normal circumstances, the top three WPIAL finishers in Class AA and AAA qualify for the state singles tournament.

The PIAA on Wednesday finalized its state tournament brackets for each fall sport, and because of covid safety measures and logistics, the entries for girls tennis singles, doubles and teams are limited to the WPIAL champion.

The first round and quarterfinal matches will be at district sites with the semifinal qualifiers heading to Hershey for a one-day set of matches to determine the state champion.

Greb hopes, in her final state appearance, to bring home gold after finishing as the runner-up her freshman year, making the semifinals two years ago and the quarterfinals last year.

“It makes me want to get back to work, start training, working on my weaknesses and improving before states,” Greb said. “It’s going to be weird this year because everyone in the WPIAL knows each other. When we go out there, we kind of stick together as friends and support one another. It definitely will be different this year.”

Greb begins her run in the state tournament Nov. 4.

Knoch freshman Emily Greb, Laura’s sister, will not be able to compete at states. But that tough news didn’t keep her from taking care of business in her consolation finals match against Beaver senior Anna Blum.

Emily Greb won the final two points of the first set to win 6-3. The second set was knotted at two before she won the final four points to claim the set and the match.

“I think I played pretty well,” she said. “I missed here and there, but overall, it was pretty good. I really wanted to go to states like my sister did when she was a freshman. I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps with all she has accomplished.”

Greb was quick to note Blum’s toughness throughout the match.

“We had some great rallies,” she said. “She’s very consistent and places the ball really well.”

In the Class AAA final, Bethel Park junior Mia Gorman outlasted Pine-Richland sophomore Elaine Qian in three sets. She stood at the top after third-place finishes the past two seasons.

Things started well for Gorman as she won the first set, 6-1, but Qian turned the tables Set 2 with a 6-2 victory.

“I think I kind of let off the gas a little bit in the second set,” Gorman said.

That set up the third set.

It looked as if Qian had things in control up 4-1, but Gorman came back to tied the set 4-4.

“I just kind of chilled for a second and calmed myself down (on the crossover),” Gorman said. “I said, ‘I have to get this together.’ I calmed my brain down and stopped thinking so much. I just had to move and go.”

The competitors traded points before Gorman went ahead 6-5.

On serve and seeking to close out the match, Gorman went to deuce twice with Qian before she closed out the win, 7-5.

“It feels amazing,” Gorman said. “It was a tough match. (Qian) played incredibly today. I played her a couple of weeks ago, and she played a lot better today. Elaine definitely was at another level today.”

Gorman, who lost in the first round of states the past two years, hopes for a longer run in the state tournament. She begins play Nov. 4 against the winner of a first-round match between the City League champion and a representative from District 9 or District 10.

“It’s exciting to go into that and, hopefully, get further than the first round and losing to whoever wins it,” said Gorman, who fell to the state champion each of the past two seasons.

The Class AAA consolation final wasn’t played Friday. Peters Township junior Kat Wang injury defaulted to Latrobe junior Jenna Bell after Thursday’s semifinals.

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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