North Allegheny’s Catanzarite hopes to deliver for tennis team

Thursday, September 26, 2019 | 3:29 PM

Like her older sister, North Allegheny freshman girls tennis player Nora Catanzarite leads the Tigers.

Catanzarite, 14, of Franklin Park, has an 9-5 record and a 6-1 Section 2-AAA mark playing first singles. She earned the section singles title and advanced to the WPIAL tournament, where she lost in the first round.

The defending WPIAL Class AAA champion Tigers are 12-2, 7-0.

Catanzarite’s sibling, Ava, was the section singles champion and WPIAL runner-up as a freshman in 2017. She helped the Tigers to WPIAL and PIAA titles.

Ava Catanzarite, a top junior player, left the team last season to train in Florida.

Ashley Huang then stepped into the No. 1 singles role. Huang, the 2017 PIAA singles champion, won section and WPIAL titles last season. She is a freshman on the Cornell women’s team.

Nora Catanzarite said it is an honor to play in the top spot, but it comes with a lot of pressure.

“I went into tryouts believing I could play first singles and was determined to earn that position,” she said. “I am facing tremendous competition from the other teams in the section. I’ve spent all of my life since age 4 training for these big moments, nationally as part of the (U.S. Tennis Association) and now locally, representing the school district. I am very proud to represent North Allegheny, and the team atmosphere has been great.”

North Allegheny coach Michelle Weniger said Catanzarite stepped right in and battled in every match.

“Our season began with matches against Upper. St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Latrobe and Shady Side (Academy),” Weniger said. “Although those (were) all challenging matches, she has grown mentally and physically from them.”

Weniger said Nora is well-liked and respected by her teammates.

Nora said her sister is a great role model. Ava Catanzarite was ranked 183rd as an International Tennis Federation junior player as of Sept. 16.

“She always keeps my confidence up, even after bad matches,” Nora said. “I can always talk to her about strategy and ways to improve my game.

“Winning the section like Ava did two years ago was a great accomplishment for me. I hope I can follow in her footsteps and help our team to win both (WPIAL and PIAA) titles this season.”

Seniors Ella Sinciline and Jenny Zhu play second and third singles for the Tigers.

Sinciline, a captain, was section singles runner-up.

Junior captain Claire Shao, sophomore Claire Zheng, freshman Abbey Swirsding, freshman Emily Wincko and seniors Ashley Chung and Shria Moturi have competed in doubles.

“Our hope is to complete our season as section champions and make a deep run at team WPIALs and, hopefully, advance to the PIAA team tournament,” Weniger said.

The Tigers lost in the PIAA semifinals last season.


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