Quaker Valley girls tennis team ecstatic to be back in WPIAL playoffs

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Sunday, October 4, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Heading into the girls tennis season, Quaker Valley coach Christiana Hays was just looking for one missing piece.

She returned six of her seven starters from a 2019 season that saw the team miss the WPIAL Class AA team playoffs. Seniors Emily Sanders, Maggie McManus and Gwen Nace were returning along with juniors Mary Pangburn and Amanda Chau and sophomore Loren Barnes.

Then, out of the blue, senior Emma Pulkowski decided to trade in her soccer cleats for a tennis racket and joined the team.

“She was the missing piece of the puzzle,” Hays said.

Since then, the Quakers have played solid tennis leading up to their final section match against two-time defending PIAA champion Sewickley Academy on Oct. 5. They were undefeated in Section 5-AA play, and they secured second place in the section by defeating Montour, 3-2, during a competitive section match Sept. 23.

“We were all hoping to do well in the section, and we are quite pleased with our second-place finish,” Hays said.

The Quakers have been getting production across the board. During their match with Montour, Quaker Valley lost at first and second singles but picked up wins in both doubles matches and in third singles.

It’s been a consistent team effort as a different person or pair has stepped up on different nights. In a nonsection match against Class AAA North Hills on Sept. 22, the Quakers received all three of their points from their singles players. They also beat Hopewell and Carlynton, 5-0.

“We don’t really have any real standouts like most teams do for their singles players. We are just really deep,” Hays said. “Against Montour, we lost our first two singles matches, but our third singles player and our two doubles teams stood up. They sort of carried us last year and are doing so again this year.”

Like most teams around the area, the Quakers were just excited to get back on the court, and after they got the news that there would be a season, Hays said the girls were ecstatic to have the opportunity to play.

Now, they are looking to finish it off. With their win over Montour, the Quakers won the head-to-head battle in the section, which earns them a berth into the WPIAL playoffs for the ninth time in the past decade.

But, like always, they’ll have to go through Sewickley Academy, which is a new challenge within their new section that also includes Keystone Oaks, Carlynton, Hopewell and Montour. The Quakers are happy to be in the playoffs, and they are looking forward to an opportunity to play in the postseason.

“We might get a home match, we might get a decent draw and we may even win a round in WPIALs,” Hays said. “That would’ve been a dream for us at the beginning of the season.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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