North Allegheny girls tennis team wins 2nd PIAA title
HERSHEY — Ask North Allegheny girls tennis coach Michelle Weniger how her young team developed so quickly this year, and she looks exasperated and laughs before answering.
She points to how well freshman sisters Anna and Tina Li played throughout the year — they were her Nos. 2 and 3 singles players — but also how they learned to become strong members of the team.
Their development helped the Tigers to an undefeated season that ended with a second PIAA Class AAA state title Saturday, when they beat Methacton, 3-2, at Hershey Racquet Club. The win came despite starting five freshmen or sophomores and having just two seniors on their 10-girl roster.
“I guess some of the growing pains with high school tennis is packed in a short of amount of time,” Weniger said. “There are three or four matches a week. We’re lucky if we have a practice. Young girls have to adjust to this fast schedule. You have to remember you’re coaching 14-year-olds.”
The Tigers (25-0) earned their first two points against Methacton from doubles. Their No. 1 doubles team of Tristyn Maalouf and Jenn Hofmann cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 victory. Sydney Boyd and Catherine Zhang combined for 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 2.
Tina Li followed with a 6-1, 6-3 victory to clinch the Tigers’ first state title since 2008. They beat West Chester Henderson (17-5) in the semifinals 4-1.
“It means a lot because it was a long season,” Tigers senior Maddy Adams said. “All the freshmen and all the other players are mature. It never felt like I was with a bunch of younger people.”
Sewickley Academy falls in semis
Sewickley Academy’s season ended with a 4-1 loss to Mercyhurst Prep in the PIAA Class AA girls tennis semifinals. The Panthers (17-6) won just four games in their first sets against Mercyhurst, which finished 20-0 after winning its second straight state title.
“I think Mercyhurst Prep is the best team in Pennsylvania,” Panthers coach Whitney Snyder said. “I think we dug a hole in many of our matches early, and it was hard to climb out of it.”
Daniel Paulling is a freelance writer.