Pitt tennis team to compete for national title |

Pitt tennis team to compete for national title

Members of the Pitt tennis team include, from left, Hannah Famili, Rithika Reddy, Antoine Dumortier, Lyon France, Brian Rubin, Aaron Paczak, David Cenkner and Claire Healy.

In their first year as members, an ex-City League singles champion and a former WPIAL doubles standout helped the Pitt club team to its first United States Tennis Association On Campus Middle States Section title last month at Mercer County Park in New Jersey.

Hannah Famili, a freshman from Shadyside who won City League girls singles titles as a freshman and sophomore at Allderdice, lost 4-6 in women’s singles, but her points were enough to give the Panthers an edge in a 26-23 decision over Penn State in the final.

Claire Healy, a junior from Mt. Lebanon, won in doubles with sophomore Rithika Reddy of Long Island, N.Y., 6-5.

By winning, the Panthers qualified for the national championship April 9-11 in Cary, N.C. Penn State and third and fourth place Carnegie Mellon and Penn also received bids.

One of 24 coed teams representing 18 colleges from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, Pitt beat Drexel, Temple, Penn and a second team from Penn State to reach the section final.

Coach Craig Perry said Famili and Healy, each 4-1 in the tournament, made a difference for the Panthers.

“(Women) were much better this year; Hannah and Claire improved the quality of play,” said Perry, the director of tennis at the Fox Chapel Golf Club retained by Pitt.

Perry expects the Panthers to be a serious contender for the national championship.

“We really have a good possibility (of winning) if we work hard,” said Healy, 21, a section champion and WPIAL Class AAA doubles semifinalist at Mt. Lebanon in 2009. “We’re all really strong.”

Famili, 18, said competition has been tougher than expected.

“Penn State played some great tennis (in the section final),” Famili said. “That was my favorite match, although I lost.”

Club vice president Brian Rubin said Famili and Healy were among about 100 men and women who tried out for the team, which was founded in 2006. Most have high school and United States Tennis Association tournament experience, he said.

“There are only 12 spots, so it is extremely competitive,” said Rubin, a junior from Erie. “(Everyone) was at least a top player on their high school (team).”

Healy, who delayed trying out to focus on academics, is happy she is a member.

“It’s a stress reliever and pure fun,” said Healy, who is studying chemistry and hopes to be a physician.

Tom Benic, past president of the Middle States Allegheny Mountain District, said club tennis is less demanding than varsity.

“Club tennis is primarily (recreational) and social with perhaps a practice or match once or twice a week,” he said. “Varsity tennis, by contrast, takes a serious time commitment.

“You really have to be talented and committed (to play).”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.