Sister combos lead Sewickley Academy ladies tennis to championship season

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Sunday, November 14, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Shut sisters are usually not simply shut. The Sewickley Academy athletes are better of buddies.

“Kirsten is my finest good friend and my greatest competitor,” Ashley mentioned, “and I’m so grateful she was in a position to be part of this season with me.”

Ashley, a 16-year-old sophomore, starred at No. 1 singles for the SA ladies tennis group, which completed because the WPIAL Class 2A champion and PIAA runner-up. She rolled via the 2021 marketing campaign undefeated till reaching the state finals.

Ashley’s freshman sister Kirsten began at third singles for the Panthers.

“Final 12 months, Kirsten was tremendous excited to be part of the group as a result of she would at all times present as much as all of my video games, ready for her flip to be to be part of the group,” Ashley mentioned. “She’s had a optimistic expertise now that she’s been a big a part of the group, and he or she’s grateful for the chance to expertise the bond we shared with the remainder of the gamers on the group this season.”

Kirsten, 14, made a rapid influence on the SA tennis program. And Ashley had an enormous affect on her.

“Ashley is among the smartest gamers I do know on the court docket. She will be able to determine (an opponent) after the second sport,” Kirsten mentioned. “Ashley at all times is aware of the place and when to hit a ball. I really feel this season was Ashley’s season. Although she wasn’t a captain, she was positively the star of the group.

“My sister and I are finest buddies. We do all the things collectively and at all times have a enjoyable time. We didn’t essentially get alongside once we have been youthful, however over time as we each matured, our relationship has gotten stronger.”

Ashley received the WPIAL Class 2A singles championship this 12 months, defeating Knoch’s Ally Bauer on Sept. 24 at North Allegheny. She was not in a position to take part within the WPIAL singles occasion in 2020 due to an harm.

The sophomore standout, who like her sister competes for Pittsburgh Premier Lacrosse Membership and the Fox Chapel ladies lacrosse group, defeated senior teammate Stella Dobrovolska-Ivanova on Sept. 17 within the part title match.

One of many Shut ladies’ favourite actions is training and enjoying tennis.

“My sister and I at all times play tennis collectively,” Ashley mentioned. “Kirsten’s most important power is her fierceness on the court docket. She’s by no means afraid to go for the large winner, and he or she by no means offers up.”

Kirsten, who does a number of service work together with her mother, buddies and typically her sister, believes she was part of the expansion course of exhibited by the Panthers this fall.

“I really feel as a group we acquired progressively higher all through the season,” she mentioned. “Everybody had an important function even when they weren’t within the beginning lineup.

“I liked being on the group as a result of everybody made it really feel such as you have been part of a household. Off the court docket, I discuss to my teammates in the course of the change of lessons and different breaks. With the older ladies, I look as much as them and go to them for recommendation. I liked attending to know and develop into buddies with everybody on the group, and it actually helped me really feel extra snug with being new to the highschool.”

There really have been two units of sisters on this 12 months’s group at SA. The lone senior within the group is Roshni Thakkar, who teamed with junior Maria Silvaggio at No. 2 doubles this 12 months.

Roshni is the older sister of Rayna, who competed with sophomore Anjali Shah at No. 1 doubles.

“Rayna and I’ve performed tennis collectively since a really early age. We practice at Pennsylvania Tennis Academy,” Roshni mentioned. “Rayna’s strengths are her approach, perseverance and willpower. She makes use of her skillset to take management of matches. It’s at all times fascinating once we play one another.

“It is rather aggressive to earn a place on Sewickley’s varsity group. As a freshman, to earn a spot as a starter says so much about Rayna’s character and tennis play. She had an incredible season with extra development to come back. Her explosive play and nice sportsmanship motivated the entire group.”

Roshni, 17, mentioned having her youthful sister as a teammate was an unforgettable expertise.

“My sister and I’ve at all times been extraordinarily shut,” Roshni mentioned, “and we’ve got develop into even nearer this tennis season. I’m grateful we had the chance to play collectively for the group. It’s an expertise that I’ll keep in mind for the remainder of my life.”

For the 14-year-old Rayna, who has taken classical Indian and Bollywood dance lessons because the age of 5, having her older sister as a teammate not less than for one season was one thing to cherish.

“My sister and I play tennis collectively so much,” Rayna mentioned. “Roshni is a really well-rounded participant. Her volleys are her secret weapon. Even when she is confronted with a difficult shot, she will react rapidly to deflect it and get the ball again in play.

“Roshni had an unbelievable season. She’s a real chief, and I couldn’t be prouder of her. She and I’ve at all times been extremely shut. She has taught me so many necessary classes that solely sisters can. One is to take a breath and even chortle when issues get irritating. I’m so completely satisfied we acquired the prospect to play collectively this season. She actually went out of her solution to help me, and I’m actually going to overlook her subsequent 12 months.”

One of many district’s premier applications, Sewickley loved a banner season in 2021.

The SA ladies stormed via their schedule till dropping a 3-2 choice to Wyoming Seminary within the PIAA Class 2A finals Oct. 30 at Hershey Racquet Membership.

No. 2-seeded SA captured the WPIAL championship by defeating No. 1 seed and playoff rival Knoch, 4-1, on Oct. 20.

On the WPIAL finals, the Shut sisters received at singles, and SA swept doubles behind Shah, Silvaggio and the Thakkar sisters.

The Panthers additionally cruised to first place in Part 5 this season.

Sewickley ended its group schedule with a 15-1 file, a 14th consecutive part title, eighth WPIAL championship at school historical past and a second-place displaying within the state.

“I really feel my group did wonderful this 12 months,” Ashley mentioned. “All of us put in an enormous quantity of labor and drastically improved our sport. To come back out second within the state is such an enormous deal to all of us, particularly as a result of we put in a lot time and effort into getting ourselves there.”

Credit score veteran coach Whitney Snyder with having a robust voice within the group’s success in his thirtieth 12 months with this system.

“I used to be extraordinarily proud to be part of our group,” Roshni mentioned. “We labored very onerous, and every member performed exceptionally all season. Coach Whitney ready us properly. He actually is aware of find out how to assist us deliver out our strengths.”

Rayna mentioned Snyder was a motivational pressure for the group and the people on the group.

“Coach Whitney offered a number of help,” she mentioned, “and his perception in me impressed me to play even tougher. Securing the WPIAL title and being a state finalist exhibits our dedication to our group. Our efficiency was unbelievable. We performed our hearts out and actually turned very shut.”

All 4 sisters consider that regardless of dropping 5 seniors to commencement, subsequent 12 months’s group shall be robust as soon as once more.

“I really feel we’ll nonetheless have a number of expertise and can proceed to be a tricky competitor,” Ashley mentioned.

Kirsten mentioned the dynamics of subsequent 12 months’s group will alter barely with solely two beginning spots open.

“I really feel our group will nonetheless carry out properly as a result of we’ve got a lot younger expertise,” she mentioned.

As a senior, Roshni would be the just one among the many 4 ladies not again subsequent season. She plans to main in pre-med and world well being in school and hopes to play on a membership tennis group.

“I totally count on subsequent 12 months’s group to make one other future for WPIAL and state championships,” she mentioned. “The group has a number of younger expertise.”

Rayna believes strongly within the Panthers’ possibilities in 2022 and past.

“I consider our group goes to be very robust and stable for years to come back,” she mentioned. “We’ve proficient gamers developing from JV and the center college.”

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