Sewickley Academy, Quaker Valley girls tennis teams have high expectations

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Friday, September 7, 2018 | 7:25 PM


The Sewickley Academy and Quaker Valley girls tennis teams have big hopes.

Sewickley Academy (5-0 overall, 4-0 in Section 4-AA) is hungry for the PIAA title after losing in the semifinals last season.

Quaker Valley (4-2 overall, 3-1 in Section 2-AA) looks forward to making the PIAA playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Sewickley Academy, the defending WPIAL champion, is young, but experienced.

Sophomores Evelyn Safar, Simran Bedi and Christina Walton are returning singles players. Vying for doubles spots are senior captain Alina Mattson, sophomores Aleena Purewal, Victoria Keller and Emma DiSantis and freshmen Sana Singh and Sofia Smith.

“(There is) no weak link,” Panther coach Whitney Snyder said.

Snyder said Mattson has done a good job leading the Panthers.

“As the only captain and senior, I want to push the team,” Mattson said. “Last year, with so many (freshmen), no one would’ve thought we’d make it to the semifinals of states.

“Even this year, our team is filled with underclassmen, but for both years, all the girls have shown a sense of maturity and kindness that (allow) us not to only bond, but become a deep team across our lineup.”

A senior-dominated Quaker Valley team is excited by its prospects.

“There is almost an urgency to get the job done,” Quaker coach Christi Hays said.

Sydney Schultz, Anna McSweeney and Martha Pangburn play singles in their final season on the squad.

Senior Abby Sanders and her sister Emily, a sophomore, form the first doubles team, while seniors Meme Malcolm and Abby McGinley team at second.

“Luckily, many of my players are versatile and can play either singles or doubles,” Hays said.

Junior Klara Friday, sophomores Gwen Nace and Maggie McManus and freshman Amanda Chau make up the rest of the squad.

Moon, of Class AAA, handed the Quakers their nonsection loss, while Beaver beat them in section play in a match that came down to a third-set tiebreak.

Hays was encouraged by a one-point victory against section rival Blackhawk in hot weather.

“Coach Christi had us sign a contract at the beginning of the season,” Pangburn said. “This contract talks about how, at every practice, we’re going to be mentally there (and) put in the work needed to be the best tennis players we can be.”

Schultz, a four-year starter, said it would be a dream to end her high school career at states after playing there as a freshman. The Quakers placed third in the WPIAL that season.

The Quakers lost in the quarterfinals of the 2017 WPIAL tournament.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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