Latrobe ready to make run in WPIAL tennis team tournament

Sunday, October 6, 2019 | 6:45 PM

With singles and doubles WPIAL girls tennis champions determined, it’s time for area teams to begin their quests for titles.

That includes Latrobe, which wrapped up a third straight Section 1-AAA championship Tuesday with a 4-1 win over Hempfield. It secured a perfect section record (8-0) for the third year in a row.

“That just shows how hard these girls work,” Latrobe coach Chad Kissell said. “This is my first year as head coach, and I haven’t really had much time with them yet. The girls came in and put in a lot of practice on their own in the offseason, and it surely shows.”

The Wildcats (9-0 overall) opened the season with a 3-2 statement win over North Allegheny, the defending WPIAL champion. The teams could meet again in the playoffs, but the bracket has not been released.

“I think that’s the first time in a while Latrobe has beaten them. It was a huge boost for our team,” Kissell said. “They have a really good, young talented team. Anything can happen in the playoffs, so we’ll see how it plays out.”

Latrobe hopes to make a deep postseason run. The team fell to Shady Side Academy, 3-2, in last year’s quarterfinals. Kissell believes those lessons will help his players this year.

“We have three sophomores in lineup, and they were all starting last year,” he said. “Last year was their first experience with playoff tennis. Hopefully, we can build on that and even go further.”

Two of the sophomores are 1-2 in the singles lineup: Jenna Bell and Carolina Walters. Junior Reese Petrosky is at No. 3 singles. In doubles, sophomore Maya Jain and senior Emily Mondock team up, and senior Bailey Noel and freshman Avery Massaro are on the second unit.

“I’ve seen so much improvement in my team from Day 1 until now,” Kissell said. “It’s really good to see how much better they’ve gotten throughout the season.”

In the WPIAL singles tournament, Bell fell to Fox Chapel’s Charlotte James, 10-4, in the second round. Walters qualified, too, but lost to Peters Township’s Kat Wang, 10-2, in the first round.

Bell and Walters teamed up to reach the WPIAL doubles championship match but fell to Peters Township’s Marra Bruce and Wang. However, Bell and Walters advanced to the PIAA doubles tournament, which starts Nov. 1 at the Hershey Racquet Club. Petrosky and Jain played in the WPIAL doubles tournament but fell in the first round.

Hempfield and Franklin Regional will take part in the WPIAL team tournament. Franklin Regional’s Hannah Yan reached the WPIAL individual second round but fell to Wang. Yan teamed up with Hannah Zheng in doubles, but they lost in the first round.

Hempfield’s Alexis Smith and Olivia Shaffer were eliminated in the first round of doubles, as well.

In Class AA, Greensburg Salem meets top-seeded Sewickley Academy, Derry takes on Beaver, Valley faces Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant hosts Keystone Oaks.

In the WPIAL singles tournament, Greensburg Salem’s Kasey Storkel reached the second round but fell to Sewickley Academy’s Christina Walton.

Derry’s Amber Sterrett dropped a 10-0 decision to South Park’s Nicole Kempton.

Kasey Stork and Paige Storkel teamed up to reach the doubles championship but fell to Knoch’s Ally Bauer and Libby Conlon. They advanced to the PIAA tournament.

Valley’s Casey Gatto and Madison Gatto reached the second round, and Burrell’s Madyson Radvansky and Isabella Lane, Southmoreland’s Ameia Echard and Aly Derry and Valley’s Aimee Johnson and Eden Richey lost in the first round.

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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