It proved to be a goal-achieving season for the Thomas Jefferson girls tennis team.
“We achieved our preseason goal to make the WPIAL Class AAA team playoffs,” coach Chuck Correll said. “The team really improved from last year. The girls worked hard during the offseason.
“This team ranks as one of my favorites. The girls were so close to each other. They really liked each other and seemed to have fun.”
The Jaguars’ top two singles players were sophomore Christine Rossi at No. 1 and junior Shannon Day at No. 2.
“Christine has great ground strokes and a very good serve,” Correll said. “She maintained a great attitude despite playing amazing competition.
“Shannon is a good baseline player who has surprising speed. Every match she played was competitive and every point played was hard fought.”
Said Rossi: “We were all improving and playing consistently enough that the idea of the playoffs seemed very possible. As for my own performance, it was a very challenging season, but that has only driven me to work harder for next year.”
Day didn’t begin playing tennis competitively until eighth grade.
“For some, that is considered a late start,” she said. “However, I think I adapted quickly as I began to enjoy the sport and devote my time to it.”
Cathryn Rossi, a senior and older sister of Christine, competed at the No. 3 spot.
“Cathryn was our only senior starter,” Correll said. “She was really playing well at the end of the season and won some key matches at No. 3 singles.”
The elder Rossi was a four-year varsity member and three-year letterwinner. Her senior season was her best.
“I think the team, overall, performed really well this season,” she said. “We managed to put up some good competition against teams like Shady Side Academy and Oakland Catholic. And it truly is amazing to be able to say that we made the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since being in AAA.
One of the strongest positions on the squad was the first-doubles tandem of junior Cassidy Como and sophomore Katie Sonnett.
“Cassidy and Katie played really well as a team,” Correll said. “Cassidy played well from the baseline, and Katie was dominant at the net.”
Sophomores Sidney O’Connell and Abby Dominick played No. 2 doubles.
“Sidney and Abby were a big surprise. Both continued to improve (throughout the season), especially at the net,” Correll said. “They won some key matches at the end of the season.”
Two other girls who lettered this year were juniors Cindy Oberio and Alyssa Polakovich.
With only one senior among the nine letterwinners, Correll has high hopes for the immediate future of TJ girls tennis.
“Making the playoffs was a big deal for us,” he said. “TJ is the smallest school in WPIAL Class AAA. We had to defeat much larger schools like Baldwin and Bethel Park. I’m excited for the future considering that we are young. The girls have already made plans on improving for next year.”