Girls tennis team is set for semifinals

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James Cromie

The girls tennis team is in the semifinals of the WPIAL playoffs.

After an 11-2 season record and a No. 5 ranking in the WPIAL 3A class, the girls tennis team finds themselves in the WPIAL semifinals.

For the first round of playoffs, the team had a splendid victory over Penn Trafford with a score of 4-1. 

They continued their season in playoffs by winning against Upper Saint Clair in the quarterfinals with a score of 3-2. 

Katie Peterson, who plays second singles, won her match which was the deciding factor for which team overall won. The match was at 2-2 until she made it 3-2. Peterson said it made her happy getting to see the excitement of her teammates after she finished the last point. 

The girls will now face Mt. Lebanon on Monday, Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. in the semifinals, which will be held at Thomas Jefferson High School. 

Freshman Keira Ross who plays second doubles said: “I think I did really well for my first season. A big part of my success was my partner Lexi Dorfner. She always kept a super positive mood no matter what was happening in a match! Her attitude on the court helped me feel more confident and less nervous.” 

Ross mentioned that her goal for her future on the team is to help the team improve and make it further into the playoffs again. She also said that she would like to improve her match record as well. 

Junior Emma Smith went from playing doubles last year to playing third singles this year.

Sophomore Julia Gobbie plays first doubles with senior Emily Ashton. Even if it is a challenge to earn, Julia Gobbie hopes to keep her spot playing first doubles in the upcoming years. 

Gobbie said, “We have a couple of really talented girls coming to the high school next year, so I need to put in a lot of hard work during the offseason to keep that spot on the lineup.”

She also has a goal for next season to win WPIALS and qualify for states.

“I think we will have a strong enough team to complete that goal.”  

She enjoyed getting to play with Ashton and mentioned that they played well together. 

We were always encouraging each other and giving each other tips to play better. As the season went on we started to figure out what worked best for us during matches.”

— Julia Gobbie

“We were always encouraging each other and giving each other tips to play better. As the season went on we started to figure out what worked best for us during matches,” Gobbie said.

“I would say that there were a couple of special moments when we would be down in the first set or down overall in the match and we would pull ourselves together and then make a comeback. It was also very fun playing in front of our parents because they would always cheer and make funny comments to encourage us. I will miss her so much next year, the team will not be the same without her.” 

For the first round of playoffs versus Penn Trafford,  junior Angelina Velisaris got a chance to play doubles with Keira Ross. They won this match and Velisaris took her first varsity victory. 

Velisaris said: “It was the best feeling making it past the first set and it felt even better now that I contributed to the big win. I’m so glad I had an opportunity to play doubles with Keira.”

 She is also incredibly proud of her teammates for making it this far in playoffs.

The team celebrates its first playoff match vs. Penn Trafford. (James Cromie)

Lily Sierka and Katie Peterson head to states

On Friday, Oct. 7, Katie Peterson and Lily Sierka placed third place in the WPIAL 3A. They beat freshman Chanel Brun and sophomore Sienna Siegal from Fox Chapel. They had a great turnout with a final score of 6-1, 6-1. Peterson and Sierka claimed the final PIAA qualifier spot. They will be competing at states which are on Nov. 4 and 5  in Hershey. 

When asked about her mindset during her match, Sierka said: “I tried not to think about states while playing so I wouldn’t have too much stress on myself. Once Katie and I were up in the second set, I started getting pretty excited because going to states was becoming a reality. Once we won, it was a big rush of excitement. I was super proud of Katie and myself for working so well together to be able to pull out a win.” 

She also has had many other accomplishments including getting 3rd in section singles and doubles, finishing 3rd in WPIALS doubles, and qualifying for states.

Along with getting to compete in states, the girls are also looking forward to getting to be in Hershey together. 

I think the first thing that I thought about after we won was that Lily and I could make chocolate bars in Hershey! I have never been to Hershey before, and I’m very excited to visit the Chocolate World as well as play in the state competition.”

— Katie Peterson

Peterson said: “I think the first thing that I thought about after we won was that Lily and I could make chocolate bars in Hershey! I have never been to Hershey before, and I’m very excited to visit the Chocolate World as well as play in the state competition.”

Katie Petersen and Lily Sierka have qualified for the PIAA Championships in doubles. (James Cromie)

Senior Spotlight

This year there are two seniors Emily Ashton and Leah Hartman who are best friends on and off the courts. They both joined the team together during their freshman year. One of their favorite memories together was getting to play doubles together their freshman year. Both girls were the captains of the team and would always help run summer practices.

Leah Hartman and Emily Ashton celebrate together on senior night.

Emily wants to study speech pathology but is also looking at studying abroad for a year after high school. Leah wants to continue her education and go to college for nursing but is unsure where she will attend.

The team is happy with how they’ve played this year and are looking forward to another great season next fall!