Latrobe girls tennis savors historic run to state finals

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020 | 4:26 PM


Latrobe girls tennis coach Chad Kissell thought early on this might be a special year for his team.

When the Wildcats opened the season with an impressive 4-1 victory against North Allegheny, Kissell’s mind was made up.

“I knew we were capable of winning the WPIAL Class AAA title,” Kissell said. “I knew the team was better than I thought. I knew we had the talent to win it all.”

Latrobe breezed to a Section 1-AAA title and was seeded No. 4 in the WPIAL team tournament.

The Wildcats then proceeded to take apart everyone in their path, blanking West Allegheny 5-0 to begin the tournament and then posting consecutive 4-1 victories against Shady Side Academy, No. 1 Peters Township in the semifinals and No. 2 Upper St. Clair in the finals to win the WPIAL title.

Latrobe wasn’t done. It defeated District 10 champion Fairview 5-0 and then travel to Hershey and defeated District 3 champion Manheim Township, 3-2, in the PIAA tournament.

In the state finals, District 1 champion Spring-Ford edged the Wildcats, 3-2.

“It was a great run,” Kissell said. “The match with Spring-Ford was tight and they played just a little bit better.

“We were actually lucky we had a season, and to accomplish what we did was unbelievable. The girls worked hard and their hard work paid off.”

Kissell said the singles group of junior Jenna Bell, senior Addison Kemerer and junior Carolina Walters was unbeatable.

“They played their best down the stretch,” Kissell said. “The future looks bright. We return five of seven starters, including two singles players. I feel we have some girls who will fill in nicely. They’re working hard, and we need them to keep getting better.”

Bell ended up winning the section singles title by defeating Franklin Regional’s Hannah Yan, 6-4, 7-5. She defeated Kemerer, 6-1, 7-5, in the semifinals. Kemerer ended up third by defeating Hempfield’s Alexis Smith, 6-0, 6-3.

Bell finished third in the WPIAL singles tournament.

Bell teamed up with Kemerer to win the section doubles title, defeating Walters and Maya Jain, 6-3, 6-3, in an all-Latrobe final.

Jain and senior Reese Petrosky played first doubles in team competition. The second doubles team was sophomore Avery Massaro and junior Emily Pierce.

Kissell said the school gave the team a nice send-off to states. Because of covid-19, the school was unable to hold a pep rally. Instead, students formed a line that the team walked through to load into the vans.

“They were chanting their names. It was pretty neat,” Kissell said. “I’m already looking forward to next fall.”

And with five of seven starters returning, the Wildcats will be looking for another title.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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