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Freshmen take Class AAA, AA tennis titles

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

A pair of freshmen aced the WPIAL Class AAA and AA singles tennis championships Wednesday.

Michaela Kissell, a freshman at Greater Latrobe, won the Class AAA crown, defeating North Allegheny’s Kim Whelan, 6-1, 6-2, at Norwin High School. Quaker Valley ninth grader Annie Houghton beat Beaver Area’s Alexandra Kaluza, the defending Class AA champion, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, at Keystone Oaks High School.

The last time a freshman won a girls Class AAA tennis title was Sarah Riske of Peters Township in 1995. Kaluza won the Class AA crown as a ninth-grader last year.

“I don’t really think of it as me being a freshman,” Kissell said. “I just played my best. I just felt good (yesterday). I knew she was a great player so I had to play well to beat her.”

Kissell played nearly perfect.

She won the first five points. Both players held serve in the opening two games. In the third game, Kissell held and then broke Whelan’s serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead.

Kissell won out from there.

In the second set, Kissell broke Whelan to start then held with an ace on the winning point. Whelan held in the third game and broke Kissell for the only time in the sixth game.

Latrobe coach Ronnie Struemph said Kissell is extremely talented and might not realize all she accomplished in the WPIAL tournament, even though she is an experienced tennis player because of other United States Tennis Association competitions she has played in. She also is a team leader, despite playing in her first year of tennis, Struemph said.

Kissell showed that yesterday.

“She hardly missed a shot all day,” Whelan said. “I tried some different things but there wasn’t much I could do.”

Houghton lost the first set, but came back strong in the next two. She said she was nervous at first, but once she got into the match she calmed down.

“I think we both played well,” said Houghton, via telephone, who lost previously to Kaluza in three sets. “I didn’t really think about me being a freshman. I just think my game was really on.”

In Class AAA consolation competition, Upper St. Clair’s Shayna Miller defeated Amanda Campbell of Fox Chapel, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3. The Class AA third-place match went to North Catholic’s Dorothy Dohanics, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), who defeated Beaver’s Kristi Borza.

The top three individuals in each class advance to the PIAA championships Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at the Hershey Racquet Club.

Miller was down love-40, 5 games to 3, in the first set and battled back to win.

“I just told myself to play relaxed,” said Miller, a junior, who won the WPIAL Class AAA doubles championships her freshman year. “When you get down, you have to try and play relaxed or you will get down even more.”


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