Sewickley Academy captures program’s 2nd PIAA girls tennis title
By: Bill Hartlep
Saturday, October 27, 2018 | 7:45 PM
Members of the Sewickley Academy girls tennis team sat in the basement of the Hershey Racquet Club after a PIAA semifinal loss to Lower Moreland last fall.
There was plenty of disappointment and some tears shed.
There also was a resolution to return in 2018 and leave Hershey victorious.
On Saturday afternoon, the Panthers did just that.
They defeated defending state champion Wyomissing, 3-2, to capture the PIAA Class 2A title.
“The girls deserve all the credit,” Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said of the program’s second state title (2011). “They made a vow to come back better this year.”
The Panthers swept the singles matches in the finals, as three sophomores shined in the showcase match.
Evelyn Safar won 6-1, 6-0 at first singles, and Christina Walton won 6-3, 6-0 at third singles.
With the score tied at two matches apiece, Simran Bedi sealed the championship with a 6-3, 6-0 victory at second singles.
“She showed tremendous poise and was able to win a closer match than the score appeared,” Snyder said.
To reach the finals, Sewickley Academy defeated District 1 champion Lower Moreland, 3-2, on Saturday morning in the semifinals.
Bedi won 6-2, 6-1, and both Panthers doubles teams were victorious.
Senior Alina Mattson and sophomore Victoria Keller won 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 at first doubles, and sophomore Emma DiSantis and Aleena Purewal won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.
Keller and Mattson clinched the victory, rallying in the third set in a match that lasted two-and-a-half hours.
“They had tremendous heart,” Snyder said.
Snyder cited the team’s challenging nonsection schedule against WPIAL Class AAA powers that helped prepare the WPIAL champion Panthers for the state tournament.
The team developed throughout the season, and a lineup of nearly all underclassmen came through in the clutch.
“What it shows is tennis at Sewickley Academy is team sport. It’s all about relationships,” Snyder said. “You never know whose going to be in a big match, a deciding match.
“They showed unbelievable heart, togetherness and unselfishness. I’m tremendously proud of them.”
In Class AAA, this was the second time since 2005 that a WPIAL team wasn’t crowned a PIAA champion.
Peters Township, Shady Side Academy and North Allegheny have combined to win 11 titles in that span.
North Allegheny, last year’s champion, lost to Conestoga, 3-1, in the semifinals Saturday.
Ashley Huang won 6-2, 6-1, at first singles for the Tigers.
District 1 champion Harriton defeated Conestoga in the finals.
In Class AA, WPIAL runner-up Knoch lost to Wyomissing, 3-2, in the semifinals Saturday morning.
Bill Hartlep is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at email@example.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.