The Fox Chapel girls tennis team completed the 2018 season a few weeks ago with a loss to Mars in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
The Foxes finished 11-4 overall and 8-1 in the section. Coach Alex Slezak is optimistic about the future of the program.
“The biggest surprise for me recently has been the interest and competitiveness for the girls tennis program,” he said. “We had 36 girls try out for the team, and only the top 20 made it. Our past successes and environment has made tennis at Fox Chapel something that players have to work really hard at. It means a lot for them to make the team.
“That competitiveness shows as our JV team was truly exceptional this year in posting a 10-1 record.”
The Foxes will lose two seniors from this year’s team — Kristen Friday and Leah Fetting.
“We have a very young team,” Slezak said. “Aside from Kristen and Leah, the other 18 were underclassmen with most of them being freshmen and sophomores.”
“The entire JV team impressed me, and we will see who separates themselves from the pack going into next year. It will be an interesting off-season.”
One question for the 2019 season will be if Charlotte James returns for her senior season after sitting out this year.
“I will be speaking with her in the off-season,” Slezak said. “We would certainly not mind having her return for her senior year.”
This year’s losses were to WPIAL Class AA champion Sewickley Academy, Class AAA runner-up Shady Side Academy and Class AAA playoff qualifiers Upper St. Clair and Mars. Slezak wants to beef up the nonsection schedule.
“I would like to schedule nonsection matches against North Allegheny, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, Pine-Richland, Sewickley Academy and Peters Township to have a more competitive and challenging schedule,” he said.
Leading the way for next year’s team will be Carissa Shepard, Lexi Quackenbush, Katie Voigt and Baylin Bitar, who were all qualifiers for the WPIAL doubles championships. Shepard, Voigt and Bitar are freshmen, and Quackenbush is a sophomore. Also expected to return are sophomores Emily Fera, Paige Theoret and Molly Dean and freshman Anna Ferris.
“We should be a deep and talented team next year,” Slezak said. “A lot will depend on the effort, hard work and discipline that the team commits to. We are looking forward to seeing the progress we make before next season starts.”
Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.