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Fox Chapel players face off in singles championships

Fox Chapel girls tennis coach Emma Dieffenbach had been in this situation before.

Two of her players met in the finals of the Section 3-AAA singles tournament last year.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Dieffenbach said. “It’s good for Fox Chapel girls tennis.”

For the second year in a row, two Fox Chapel players went head-to-head in the Section 3-AAA singles championship match, played last week at Boyce Park in Plum.

This time, though, it was a little different.

Juniors Amanda Campbell and Meghan Damico both were former section singles champions. Campbell won the title in 2001, and Damico won it in 2002.

“It’s different when you’re playing against someone you don’t know. When it’s someone from your own team, it’s hard to be friendly and competitive at the same time,” said Campbell, who won her second section singles crown with a 6-3, 6-1 decision over Damico.

Campbell did not compete in last year’s section singles tournament. Damico won it by defeating teammate Lauren Payne in the finals.

Both Campbell and Damico advanced to this week’s WPIAL singles championships.It is the third season in a row that two Fox Chapel players earned berths in the WPIAL tournament.

Shady Side Academy senior Mary O’Loughlin placed third and advanced to the WPIAL finals for the first time. She defeated Jackie Connell of Penn Hills, 8-0, and Sarah Rendulic of Penn-Trafford, 10-5, to reach the semifinals, where she dropped a 6-1, 6-0 decision to Campbell.

O’Loughlin had to make a comeback in the consolation match that determined who would be the section’s third WPIAL qualifier. She lost the first set to Penn Trafford’s Lara Rizzi, then rolled through the rest of the match without losing a game, winning a 2-6, 6-0, 6-0 decision.

Damico and Campbell have been varsity teammates for two seasons, but they had met in a match only once before last week’s section final. Campbell had the upper hand in that previous meeting at a practice earlier this season, winning every game against her teammate.

“I was a little discouraged after that,” Damico said. “Amanda’s one of the top players in the country, and it’s hard to beat someone like that.”

Campbell, the tournament’s top seed, took a 3-0 lead in the first set before Damico, seeded second, put together a rally to even the score at 3-all.

“(Damico) played really well,” Campbell said. “I was forcing points and making too many errors. I regrouped and realized that I had to be more patient.”

Campbell used her strong serve and solid ground strokes to regain control of the match. She lost only one game the rest of the way.

“Amanda refocused and finished off the match,” Dieffenbach said. “She has great racquet head speed and good ball placement. She moves her opponent right to left, then left to right and hits it down the line.

“I’m proud of both of my players.”

Shady Side senior Christine Lim was eliminated in the opening round of the tournament, dropping an 11-10 (7-5) decision against Tara Stein of Woodland Hills.


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