Sopho­mores not too young to claim dis­trict ti­tles

Mo­ra­vian Academy’s Bar­to­lacci, Strouds­burg’s Briegel head­ing to states

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Dante Teren­zio

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.”

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