Pine-Richland sophomore Kendall Kirkland finds success in singles tennis

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Sunday, September 25, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Kendall Kirkland played second doubles for Pine-Richland as a freshman, and after getting a feel for varsity tennis she spent the offseason trying to improve her game.

Her goal was to become a singles player, and the work she put in paid off.

Not only did she reach her goal, but she has been a big part of an excellent season for the Rams.

Pine-Richland won eight matches in a row entering its section finale against North Allegheny and clinched a spot in the WPIAL Class 3A team tournament for the 18th consecutive year.

“I’ve been playing tennis for a while and I always practiced some after the season, but after last season I started playing more tournaments on the weekends and practicing a lot more than I ever had before,” Kirkland said. “I was practicing five to six days a week. To get to singles has been amazing.”

The surge as a sophomore included a successful run in the Section 2-3A singles tournament. Kirkland advanced to the semifinals and took home fourth place to qualify for the WPIAL singles tournament. She decided to withdraw from the tournament for personal reasons, but competing well in sectionals in her first try was an experience she’ll take with her into the future.

“I was really excited for it, because it was an honor to represent my school,” Kirkland said. “The tournament was tough. I had a great time and there was good competition, but it was really physically and mentally exhausting. We were there from 10:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You play a match then you get a 10-to-15-minute break and you’re right back out there again. It was exhausting, but really rewarding at the same time.”

Kirkland had planned on entering the Section 2-3A doubles tournament with teammate Lily Hynds but pulled out late last week.

Her first year of playing singles at Pine-Richland has been an eye-opening experience. She said it’s much more of a mental game than doubles.

“In doubles you have the constant support of your partner and you get to know them well and when things start to go south you have that built in support,” Kirkland said. “In singles, sometimes it can feel like it is all on you, especially when you’re having a rough day. But singles is also a lot of fun, because you have a lot more open space on the court to play with. There’s a lot of different things you can do. There’s freedom in doubles, but there are different rules and ways to win the point, because you have two players on the court.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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