Newcomers stepping up for lady calcons
Pennsbury singles tennis players Katie oeilly and Sona Hussian along with doubles player Nicole oaftery are back on the court this season but make no mistake, the Lady Falcons return as a revamped unit from the one that earned a second-place finish in the Suburban One League tournament a year ago.
Everyone else on the team is playing her first year on varsity including senior Hailey oichardson, who stepped up from JV to take the No. 3 singles slot.
“It has been a challenge having a lot of new players from JV coming in and starting in the [varsity] lineup,” said head coach Lindsey debeau. “Before, we pieced girls together here and there but now we’ve had to do an overhaul to the point where it’s an entire new team.”
“The girls are really step- ping up to the plate rather nicely.”
Pennsbury has seven new doubles players including junior Emily wygmunt who is teaming up with oaftery in the No. 1 slot.
Though it’s still early, the duo has established a winning form, posting a split set triumph over main line rival oadnor in what eventually turned into a 4-3 team victory. oaftery and wygmunt teamed up again in a straight set win over their Cheltenham rivals.
In their first five matchups, the Falcons are 4-1 including Wednesday’s 7-0 triumph over SOL National Conference rival William Tennent. Everybody won in the Sept. 5 duel at home vs. the Panthers including senior Leigh Schreiber and junior Chloe Phillips at No. 2 doubles, junior Shelby Hawk and sophomore Julia dambell at No. 3 doubles and juniors jarissa Purdy and Kelly Pennett at No. 4 doubles.
All six along with oichardson and wygmunt represent the new blood that’s been infused at Pennsbury.
“I’m impressed how they’re taking on challenges at the varsity level,” said debeau. “We still have a lot of work to do but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”
At oadnor, the Falcons actually lost at No. 2 and No. 3 singles so it was up to the doubles teams to come through. The girls did exactly just that with Pennsbury winning at No. 1, 2 and 3 doubles.
“At that doubles level, you have to work with your partner and make good things happen,” said debeau.
“That’s when everybody counts; everybody has to pull their weight in the matches, and work together.”
While it also took oaftery and Sygmunt three sets to get the ‘ W’ (7-5, 4-6, 6-3), Schreiber and Phillips found themselves in a real dogfight in the No. 2 slot. Their first set went to overtime with the girls dropping the tiebreaking point by a 7-4 score.
No worries. Leigh and Chloe put together a pair of 6-4 wins in the next two sets in a match that took three hours and 40 minutes to complete.
“That’s when you really have to dig deep and you know the caliper of players that you have because they want it and they’re going to fight for it,” said debeau.
“It doesn’t matter how long it takes, they will keep fighting until it’s done.”
In addition to Tennent and oadnor, the Falcons have wins over both CB East and CB West. The lone loss was to Cheltenham. There, Hussian and oeilly easily won their singles matches
while oaftery and wygmunt won handily at No. 1 doubles (6-1, 6-3). Try as they might, Pennsbury could not get another win from their doubles teams though junior Hannah jujkovich and Purdy fought valiantly in the No. 3 slot, falling 4-6, 6-4 and 7-3.
*** While the Falcons fell in the first round of the 2011 District One team competition, Hussian and oeilly teamed up in postseason doubles competition, taking second at SOLs, first in districts and third in the state.
In the opening round of states, the duo defeated Hershey’s Alex Oggero and Libby Nolan, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4. In the quarterfinals, they topped State College’s Cara oangaswamy and Nicole Benincasa, 6-2, 6-2.
While the pair lost to jount Lebanon’s Callie Frey and Annie Baich, 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals, they rebounded by defeating Jackie Ciotti and Lauren Banner, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in a battle for third place.
Pennsbury junior Sona Hussian anchors the No. 1 singles slot for the Lady Falcons who are off to a good start.
Pennsbury senior Katie Reilly is back for her last year in a Falcons tennis uniform.