Sewickley Academy, Fox Chapel win PIAA girls tennis team titles

Saturday, October 26, 2019 | 11:32 PM

The WPIAL was well-represented in the PIAA girls team tennis championships Saturday in Hershey, with three of the four finalists coming from the area.

Sewickley Academy defeated Knoch, 3-0, in Class AA, and Fox Chapel earned the Class AAA title at Hershey Racquet Club.

Sewickley’s victory was a rematch of the WPIAL final, which the Panthers won 3-2.

“We’re all proud of the girls. They spent a lot of time working on their game during the offseason and the season. They made a lot of sacrifices, and they came together when it meant the most,” Sewickley Academy coach Whitney Snyder said.

Sewickley swept the doubles matches. Victoria Keller and Emma DiSantis defeated Libby Conlon and Jadyn Brown, 6-1, 7-5, at No. 1 doubles. Aleena Purewall and Milla Dobrovolska Ivanova beat Caroline Ejzak and Riley Wynn, 6-1, 6-0, at second doubles.

That meant Sewickley needed to win only one singles match, and Evelyn Safar sealed the repeat by downing Laura Greb in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 1

Sewickley advanced to the finals by defeating Lower Moreland, 5-0, in the semifinals earlier in the day. Knoch reached the finals with a 4-1 victory over Lancaster Catholic.

This is the Panthers’ third state title (the other came in 2011).

“Any state title is a privilege,” Snyder said.

In Class AAA, Fox Chapel captured its second PIAA title with a 3-2 win over Downingtown West. The other came in 2004.

“It means a lot to me, but more importantly to the girls. We have a close-knit tennis community in Fox Chapel,” Fox Chapel coach Alex Slezak said.

“The girls before paved the way for this group of girls. They’ve helped them throughout the years. This is a very special group of girls, and they were able to pull it out.”

The Foxes lost both doubles matches in straight sets. Downingtown West’s Alyssa Dehart and Kaitlyn Pacheco defeated Katie Voigt and Paige Theoret, 7-6, 6-1. Divya Kalmady and Lili Zebluim topped Fox Chapel’s Anna Ferris and Diya Reddy, 6-4, 6-3, in second doubles.

However, Fox Chapel rebounded when Charlotte James routed Downingtown West’s Tanya Pant, 6-2, 6-0, at No. 1 singles.

At No. 2 singles, Fox Chapel’s Carissa Shepard dropped the first set to Sophia Koons, 6-2, but rallied to win the final two sets 6-2, 6-3.

The final match was even closer, as Fox Chapel’s Catherine Petrovich lost the first set 6-3 to Lily Shi but pulled out a 7-6 victory in the second set. Petrovich sealed the state title with a 6-3 win in the decisive set.

Fox Chapel reached the final after defeating Manheim Township, 3-1, in the semifinals.

Earlier this season, Fox Chapel had an opportunity to win their first WPIAL title since 2004 but fell short after a 3-2 loss to Peters Township in the championship.

“They know in tennis if you do the right things, you will eventually get rewarded with winning. We did all the right things in the WPIAL finals, but we came up short,” Slezak said.

“We did all the right things in the state tournament, and we got rewarded. It was doing all the right things to get us through a lot of close matches.”

The last time two WPIAL teams won state titles in girls tennis was in 2011, when Peters Township and Sewickley Academy won.

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