As a sophomore, Blackhawk's Juliana Lapek made the WPIAL singles girls tennis tournament after finishing third in the Section 2-AA tournament.
But the past two years, Lapek hasn't been able to get over the final hurdle to get back.
The top three from sections make the WPIAL tournament, but Lapek finished in fourth in singles in 2011 and '12. In doubles, she paired with Analise Zapadka in 2011 to once again take fourth in sections.
So last week was her final chance, as well as Zapadka's, to make the WPIAL tournament other than the team competition. So it's no surprise the elation both felt when they defeated Beaver's Cassidy Griffin and Katherine Dietrick, 6-3, 6-4, in the Section 2-AA semifinals to sew up their spot at this week's WPIAL tournament
"It feels amazing," Lapek said. "It was our goal all season."
The Blackhawk pair ended up falling in the finals to Beaver's other doubles team of Raquel Holiday and Mattie Taylor, 6-3, 6-4. But that will only affect their seeding at WPIALs.
Of more concern for the two seniors was their quarterfinal match against Riverside's Tristen Beighey and Samantha Maietta. After getting a bye in the first round as the section's No. 2 seed, Lapek and Zapadka were losing early in the elimination match before settling down and winning the pro set, 10-6.
"In our first match, we were pretty pumped and we started to lose," Zapadka said. "We finally calmed down and started to play our best."
And it's usually Lapek who is the fired-up player of the two, according to Zapadka, despite the opposite being true off the court.
"Normally, I'm the outgoing one, but on the court, she gets more hyped up than I do," Zapadka said.
The duo's personalities are different, as are their games. Blackhawk coach Amy Anderson said Lapek uses more power, but Zapadka is more comfortable at the net. The mix of different personalities and styles of play blends well together for the two friends.
"They are very comfortable with each other," Anderson said. "When one is down, the other picks them up."
Now the duo will head to the WPIAL tournament against what should be a wide-open field. Three of the teams that reached the final four at WPIALs last season had both of their players graduate.
The other team was Holiday and Griffin, who played together last season and finished third. Now Holiday is playing with Taylor, and likely will be one of the favorites this week. But the Cougars' duo has already played them tough once.
"I expect good things from [Lapek and Zapadka]," Anderson said.
Lapek believes they can get past at least the first round, where she lost two years ago in the WPIAL singles tournament.
The WPIAL Class AA doubles tournament begins today at Keystone Oaks. The final and consolation final will be played Friday at North Allegheny.hsother