Oakland Catholic senior Megan Wasson and junior Nicole Cyterski took care of step one Friday, winning their second consecutive section doubles championship and qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAA tournament.
Now they have their sights set on Hershey.
"They realize that the next step for them is states," Oakland Catholic coach Mark Paull said.
The tandem has come within inches of qualifying for the PIAA tournament the past two seasons. In 2010, Cyterski's freshman season, the duo came within one match of making it to the state tournament, losing in the semifinals to eventual WPIAL champions Kylie Isaacs and Mikayla Becich of North Allegheny, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
Wasson and Cyterski, who are both Fox Chapel residents, did win their consolation final match to finish third, but only the top two teams from WPIAL Class AAA make it to the state tournament.
The WPIAL doubles tournament begins today with Class AAA competition at Norwin High School starting at 1 p.m. The Class AA tournament is at Keystone Oaks beginning at 10:30 a.m. Championship and third-place consolation matches will be Friday at North Allegheny High School beginning at 2 p.m.
In 2011, the Eagles' duo became the first in school history to win a section doubles title, beating Mt. Lebanon's Callie Frey and Annie Baich in the Section 4-AAA title match.
But it was Frey and Baich who qualified for the PIAA tournament last season, taking second place at the WPIAL tournament. Meanwhile, Cyterski and Wasson fell just short again, losing in the semis to eventual WPIAL and PIAA champions Stephanie Smith and Sara Komer of Peters Township. The Oakland Catholic pair also lost the consolation final to Isaacs and Becich in three sets.
This year, the Eagles' top tandem will head into the tournament as one of the favorites after easily dispatching Mt. Lebanon's Annie Baich and Jessica Warshaw, 6-0, 6-2, in the Section 4-AAA finals. While Isaacs, Baich and Komer will also compete this week, they will all have different partners than last season.
"Cyterski and Wasson have the most accomplished doubles resume of any tandem in the [WPIAL] tournament," Paull said.
Their success comes from a combination of chemistry and talent. The two grew up playing tennis with each other, having met at the Fox Chapel Racquet Club at the age of 8 and playing together every summer since.
For the past three years, they've also played together in the fall. Wasson, a senior, is one year ahead of Cyterski. When she was entering high school, she chose to attend Oakland Catholic. The next year, when Cyterski was going to enter high school, Wasson told her friend to look at her school.
"[Megan] talked to me about it," Cyterski said. "So I looked into it and it was a perfect fit for me."
It was also perfect for the Eagles' tennis team. Since the two joined the team, Cyterski has been the team's No. 1 singles player and Wasson has occupied the No. 2 spot. Cyterski qualified for the WPIAL singles tournament in both her freshman and sophomore years, while Wasson reached the WPIAL singles tournament for the first time this season. Wasson also became the first player in school history this year to eclipse the 60-win mark.
Although the two have had much success by themselves, they have been even better when paired together.
"They have a very strong bond and their games complement each other, " Paull said. "Nicole uses topspin and is more likely to hit precise shots from the baseline. Megan has more power and is more likely to go to the net."
Wasson and Cyterski have won some big tournaments outside of the high school schedule, including the Fox Chapel USTA's Junior Open in the Under-18 division in 2011 and '12.
"For me, my goal is to do well with Nicole in doubles and make states," Wasson said. "It's my senior year and we've been so close. We're just going to leave everything on the court."