Latrobe tennis aims for deep playoff run

Monday, September 25, 2017 | 5:12 PM

After going undefeated in Section 1-AAA, the Latrobe girls tennis team (9-0) looks forward to a long run in the WPIAL playoffs.

Tournament brackets were released Monday, and the Wildcats will host Peters Township at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Latrobe coach Michele Stas said the Wildcats aim to go farther than in previous seasons.

“We face a lot of tough competition at this level and have high hopes we are able to step it up,” she said.

Freshman Addison Kemerer has lost only two matches playing first singles. One of those setbacks was to Norwin senior Maria Santilli, the defending WPIAL and PIAA singles champion and a Cincinnati recruit.

Stas said Kemerer can hit just about any type of shot and rarely gets rattled, which is rare for a player her age.

“I knew she was going to be a great player,” Stas said.

Kemerer said, in the postseason, she just wants to try her best and keep doing what she has been doing. She said she is not nervous, thanks to encouragement from her teammates.

Kemerer is one of several Wildcats who is new to her position.

Senior Maddie Stas, the coach's cousin, moved to third singles from first doubles, and sophomores Emily Mondock and Julia Huczko compete in first doubles after being brought up from the JV.

Junior Gianna Ferry is in her second season at second singles.

“No one likes to lose, but (Ferry) almost takes it as a challenge to play her next match at a level even higher than the one before,” Michelle Stas said.

Ferry said she was happy the Wildcats went undefeated in the section.

Sophomore Annie Rause and junior Amanda White will play second doubles, one of two combinations the Wildcats have used in that position.

Senior Taylor Miller — a standout diver — and junior Lauren Wilner have competed.

“Second doubles has played a crucial role,” said Michelle Stas, adding matches have been determined by points earned in that spot.

The Wildcats are one of four teams from the section to qualify for the playoffs. Norwin (8-1) came in second, losing only to Latrobe, and Franklin Regional and Hempfield tied for third with 6-3 records.

Franklin Regional coach Howard Fisher said of the four, Latrobe and Norwin probably have the best chances of making it to the quarterfinal round.

Norwin will host Oakland Catholic, Franklin Regional plays Montour at Moon and Hempfield will play at Mt. Lebanon, all at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Latrobe was eliminated in the first round of the 2016 WPIAL playoffs by Pine-Richland. The Wildcats last won the WPIAL title in '05. They also were champion in '02.

In Class AA, Greensburg Central Catholic, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland and Derry are among the qualifiers and will play Wednesday at 3.

GCC will host Ambridge, Mt. Pleasant is at Indiana, Derry is at Sewickley Academy and Southmoreland will play at Neshannock.

“It will be a very competitive tournament,” Derry coach Tom Tatone said. “I know a lot of traditionally strong teams out there (who) will be ready to go.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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