Part-time player Will Siegel of Fox Chapel makes noise on WPIAL tennis scene

Saturday, April 15, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Will Siegel’s entrance to the season for the Fox Chapel tennis team first requires him to dig his racquet out of the closet.

Due to Siegel’s commitment to the Foxes basketball team, which qualified for the PIAA Class 5A tournament and had the season extend into March, he usually doesn’t use the racquet for six months.

What that means for Siegel, who is a junior and the No. 1 singles player for the Foxes for the second straight season, is that he is behind when the season starts.

It didn’t bother him too much this season. Siegel battled his way to the runner-up spot in the section tournament and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“Kids who are No. 1 singles players will hit a lot of balls back to you,” Siegel said. “I just try to lean on my athleticism until I am able to work back into playing tennis. I’m not as consistent as those players who play year-round.”

Despite starting behind the competition, Siegel earned the top seed for the Section 3-3A tournament. He reached the finals before falling to second-seeded Deniz Finkel of Allderdrice 6-0, 6-0.

Siegel said playing against players who get more experience doesn’t intimidate him.

“I have a lot less to lose,” Siegel said. “I would think sometimes it would make other players mad losing to someone who doesn’t play as much.”

On the way to the finals, Siegel took out Central Catholic’s Anthony Arshoun and Baldwin’s Braden Yokopenic.

Foxes coach Alex Slezak said Siegel’s all-around skills help him excel on the tennis court.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Slezak said. “He can dunk a basketball. He’s able to lean on his athleticism and competitiveness to help him win after he comes straight from basketball.”

Siegel picked up tennis when he was 6. He enjoys having a sport that he can play with friends and family to relax.

Siegel has also been able to develop a number of skills he can rely on when things aren’t going well.

“I can always rely on my forehand,” Siegel said. “Even when I’m not playing well, I know I can hit that shot.”

At the WPIAL tournament, Siegel didn’t get an opportunity to play in the first round after North Allegheny’s Shaun Fernando pulled out with an injury. That allowed the 11th-seeded Siegel to get a shot at No. 3 seed, Gateway sophomore Zidaan Hassan, in the quarterfinals. Hassan, who finished third in the tournament, handed Siegel a narrow 10-8 defeat.

“I was happy with how I played at WPIALs,” Siegel said. “I gave (Hassan) a great match, and I think I surprised some people.”

Siegel believes Fox Chapel has an excellent chance to repeat as the WPIAL Class 3A team champions as well. The Foxes have a deep lineup and will be able to be competitive with any team they match up with.

“I think we can win the WPIAL,” Siegel said. “There isn’t a big gap between me and the No. 7 player in our lineup.”


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