Sophomores not too young to claim district titles
Moravian Academy’s Bartolacci, Stroudsburg’s Briegel heading to states
The area’s super sophomores of girls tennis put forth strong showings in singles Thursday.
Moravian Academy’s Isabella Bartolacci and Stroudsburg’s Paraskevi Briegel both pulled out three-set victories to claim District 11 titles at Lehigh University’s Lewis Indoor Tennis Center.
Briegel said it best at the end of the singles championships: “I’m exhausted and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m also shocked and can’t remember half the points.”
Bartolacci, who brought solid fan support, came back from a set down to defeat Saucon Valley’s Julia Hernandez 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to win the 2A crown.
More than an hour later in 3A, Briegel won gold in a marathon match over Parkland senior Joanna Wu, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5.
After dropping the first set in the 2A final, Bartolacci mixed up her pace by spreading out her forehand and a wicked slice on the backhand side. That game plan drastically changed the momentum of the match as the Lion evened it at one set apiece.
“[Hernandez] is a really good player,” Bartolacci said. “After the first set, I mainly played more consistent and didn’t let one point get me upset. She hits hard, so my goal was to stay steady and move her.”
Backed by a quick 3-0 lead, Bartolacci outworked her junior counterpart and cruised through the third set.
They split their two previous meetings this season.
“Being a sophomore gives me more ambition to win, to beat the juniors and seniors,” Bartolacci said. “It’s a great feeling and it’s amazing to have won districts.”
One court over in 3A, Briegel and Wu were locked up in a battle.
Briegel eked out a close first-set tiebreaker but found herself behind 4-1 in the second.
The Mountaineer broke Wu, then held serve to push the set to 4-3. Wu buckled down in a pair of service games to win the second set.
Briegel opened the third with a quick break, but again Wu stayed alive. A 5-3 Briegel lead turned into a 5-5 tie.
That’s when Briegel truly buckled down.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘I can do it, I can do it,’ because I know I’m a fighter,” Briegel said. “I took each point by itself and did not think about the end result.”
A big hold in the 11th game fired up Briegel and her Stroudsburg fans. That momentum carried over into the final game, where the Mountaineer broke Wu for the title.
Immediately following her victory, Briegel was greeted by her sister and senior teammate, Vasilia, and the two shared an unforgettable embrace.
“[Wu] is so good; she fights,” Briegel said. “It came down to who stayed more focused. Conditioning helped both players. I got by because I thought about all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Next up for Bartolacci and Briegel is the PIAA singles championships Nov. 1-2 at the Hershey Racquet Club.
“Even though I’m a sophomore, I have a big ambition,” Bartolacci said. “My main goal is to win at states.”
Added Briegel: “I know I’m capable of more than I think. I’m really excited and very thankful for the experience.”