North Allegheny’s Catanzarite grabs bronze

Friday, February 2, 2018 | 11:00 PM

It might not have been the way or color she wanted, but Ava Catanzarite of Franklin Park picked up a bronze ball recently at the United States Tennis Association National Winter Championships in Orlando, Fla.

Catanzarite, 15, and her partner, Lana Mavor of Yarmouth, Maine, came in third in Girls' 16 Doubles.

Gold, silver and bronze balls are awarded to the top three finishers in USTA Level 1 tournaments. It was Catanzarite's first ball of any kind.

Catanzarite — the top-ranked player in the USTA Middle States section — aims for the ultimate prize in singles.

“(The bronze ball) is in my bedroom where I can see it every day,” said Catanzarite, a freshman at North Allegheny. “It makes me proud, but also gives me incentive to (keep) striving for the gold next time.”

Catanzarite and Mavor won four matches before losing in the semifinals in three sets.

They took the place match after their opponents withdrew because of injury.

Catanzarite made it to the Round of 32 in singles.

“I do realize that winning any ball is very difficult,” Catanzarite said. “Most players never win any of them.

“It's kind of like the Olympics. Now that I know I can reach the bronze level, it makes me want the gold ball even more.”

Brandon Anandan, Catanzarite's juniors coach, believes she can achieve her goal.

“She's definitely one of the kids to talk about at these tournaments,” he said. “She's come back now knowing even without the resources some of the other competitors have, she's right there battling and beating many of them at the highest level.”

Catanzarite came in first in singles and doubles in a National Level 3 tournament Jan. 20-22 in Erie.

Catanzarite, who played first singles, led North Allegheny to its fifth straight WPIAL Class AAA title and fourth PIAA crown in five seasons in the fall. The Tennis Recruiting Network ranks her first in Pennsylvania among college prospects in her class.

Tigers coach Michelle Weniger sees a gold ball in Catanzarite's future.

“When she puts her (sights) on something, she is going to do everything in her power to achieve (it),” Weniger said.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.


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