Sewickley Academy girls tennis in position to repeat; Quaker Valley rebuilding

Friday, September 6, 2019 | 8:04 PM

With most of its players back, the Sewickley Academy girls tennis team is optimistic about repeating as WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champions.

“We’re a tight group,” junior Evelyn Safar said. “I think that comes from all the experience we’ve had playing together.

“All the fun stuff we do together just adds to that: riding in the van, getting ice cream and plain hanging out. We all know what each of us needs to be successful on the court, whether it be loud cheering or just a couple of reassuring nods.”

Safar and juniors Simran Bedi and Christina Walton are returning singles players. Bedi placed second in the WPIAL singles championship tournament last season.

Coach Whitney Snyder said five returning players — juniors Victoria Keller, Aleena Purewal and Emma DiSantis and sophomores Sana Singh and Sofia Smith — are among nine candidates for doubles spots. Freshman Maria Silvaggio and sophomores Milla Dobrovolska-Ivanova, Elim Chen and Roshni Thakkar are new to the team.

Keller teamed with Alina Mattson to place third in the WPIAL doubles tournament and reach the PIAA quarterfinals last season.

Bedi said the Panthers, who are seeking their third consecutive WPIAL title, have a great opportunity.

“I feel as though we should just take it one step at a time and make sure to to work hard every single match, like we did last year, and see how far that takes us,” Bedi said.

Keller said repeating is a reasonable goal.

The Panthers got off to a 4-1 start, their only loss by a 3-2 score to Class AAA Upper St. Clair. The Panthers blanked four Section 4-AA opponents.

Quaker Valley faces a massive rebuilding job after placing second in Section 2-AA and making it to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“As a coach, I’ve never faced a situation like this going into a season,” Quakers coach Christi Hays said. “We lost six out of our seven starters. We were absolutely starting from scratch.”

Juniors Emily Sanders and Maggie McManus and sophomore Mary Pangburn compete in singles.

Junior Gwen Nace, sophomore Amanda Chau, senior Miranda Clark and freshman Loren Barnes are doubles players. Senior Alessia Burns plays exhibition singles.

The Quakers got off to a 1-4 start, including 1-2 in the section.

“We’re trying,” McManus said. “Christi’s preparing us well.”

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