Penn Hills girls tennis showing competitive streak

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Sunday, September 12, 2021 | 10:01 AM


The Penn Hills girls tennis team already has shown an increased acumen for having competitive matches.

Indians coach Richard Parks hopes this trend will lead to more victories in individual matches as well as for the team.

Penn Hills is off to a 1-3 start, including a 5-0 sweep of Gateway. The Indians have their top three singles players — Francie Buckner, Talia Russell and Symphony Coto — back this season.

“They are doing a lot better,” Parks said. “They are staying in the game more. The players who have played the game are doing better. That’s a good thing.”

Penn Hills also returns Olivia Grainy, who primarily plays doubles. Five new players also joined the team.

What Parks wants from the new players is for them to show progress during matches. Wins and losses aren’t the most important factor.

“It is a challenge,” Parks said. “We want to get them out on the court and have them play. As long as we can get them to compete, we’re happy. That’s all we are asking them to do is give an effort and compete.”

Parks said the youth program he is involved with at Highland Park and the Mellon Bubble has helped generate interest in the program.

It helps some players get acclimated to the game.

“What it does is it gives kids the opportunity to play tennis who wouldn’t normally play because of the cost,” Parks said. “They get court time, equipment and coaching for free.”

Building a foundation in that program will be important for Penn Hills, which competes in the challenging Section 3-3A. The Indians have to lock horns with traditional heavyweights Shady Side Academy and Fox Chapel.

Allderdice, Baldwin, Fox Chapel, Oakland Catholic, Plum, Thomas Jefferson and Woodland Hills are also in the section.

“We just want them to be consistent,” Parks said. “We aren’t trying to overpower anybody. We want to be consistent.”

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