Knoch’s Laura Greb wins section singles title, eyes WPIAL repeat
By: Michael Love
Thursday, September 13, 2018 | 8:57 PM
As the defending WPIAL Class AA singles champion, Knoch sophomore Laura Greb is the hunted.
She understands the other top players in next week’s WPIAL singles tournament will be hoping to knock her off and take her place at the top of the ladder. It’s a role she said she relishes.
“It makes me have to step up my game even more,” said Greb, who captured her first section championship Thursday with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over fellow Knoch sophomore Brooke Bauer in the Section 3-AA final at Valley.
“It puts more pressure on me, so I have to get ready for that.”
While the section title is something she wanted to bring home since finishing as runner-up last year, Greb is looking forward to a repeat at WPIALs.
She toppled OLSH’s Katherine Marks, 6-4, 6-1, in last year’s WPIAL finals, avenging the setback to Marks in their section title match.
Greb won’t have to worry about Marks next week, however, as Marks now attends a school in Texas.
But, she said, she is looking forward to facing a competitive field that includes Bauer as well as returnees such as Sewickley Academy’s Christina Walton and Simran Bedi, South Park’s Elyssa Pemu, Beaver’s Devyn Campbell, Greensburg Central Catholic’s Anna Vitale and Winchester Thurston’s Alexandra Friedlander.
Greb faced and defeated Friedlander and Campbell in the first and second rounds, respectively, at last year’s WPIAL championships.
Her goals also include completing the job at Hershey after last year’s runner-up finish to Bethlehem Catholic’s Brenna Magliochetti (6-2, 7-6 (5) final) in the PIAA tournament. Her offseason work, including training at Alpha Tennis and Fitness in Harmar and at junior tournaments, she said, helped her make improvements for what she hopes is another tournament run.
“There’s a lot still to do, and it won’t be easy, that’s for sure,” Greb said.
Greb and Bauer lead the way out of Section 3. Ellis senior Stephanie Ohori won Thursday’s consolation match 6-2, 6-1 over Derry senior Juliet Tatone.
The WPIAL singles bracket is expected to be released Tuesday and involves the top four finishers from each of the four Class AA sections. The tournament will start Thursday at a location yet to be deterimined.
Greb and Bauer could be placed on opposite sides of the bracket, and Greb hopes they can meet again in the championship match.
“It’s a lot of fun playing her,” said Greb, who also defeated Bauer in last year’s WPIAL semifinals on the way to the championship. “We’re really competitive with each other. We would both love to represent Knoch in the finals. That would be awesome if we both made it.”
While Greb was challenged through the semifinals of the section tournament, she captured all 32 points in the first three rounds, including a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Tatone that put her into the finals.
Bauer almost was perfect as she surrendered only one point out of 33 through a 6-0, 6-0 semifinal win over Ohori.
“Brooke loves to take the ball early and put pressure on me during the points,” said Greb of their matches. “She loves to hit the ball down the line to end the points fast. We have different playing styles, and that really pushes both of us.”
Greb led the way for Section 3-AA at last year’s WPIAL tournament, and the section owned all four spots in the semifinals. Bauer bounced back from the loss to Greb in the semifinals and captured third place.
At the PIAA tournament, Bauer won her first match before losing in the quarterfinals.
“Laura and I give 100 percent on the court when we play each other,” said Bauer. “We’re great friends, but when we’re on the court, it’s always intense and always competitive. We don’t let the other win before we give it our best shot.”
Knoch coach Nancy Conlon said Greb and Bauer bring out the best in each other.
“They push each other to the very limit,” she said. “They know each other so well, and it’s fun to see how each will use their strategy to try and get the better of the other.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at email@example.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.