East Xtra: Ellis girl repeats as titlist

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For the second summer in a row, Maeve McAllister came away from the Bob O'Connor Tennis Classic a champion.

McAllister, who will be a senior at The Ellis School in the fall, made it back-to-back championships in the Women's Open 'B' Singles Tournament, defeating Bailee Miller in the finals at Frick Park.

"It was great," McAllister said. "I won it last year and I always play at the park and it was a good time.

"... I thought the level of competition was very good. I was challenged every match. The final match was very challenging. I think it went two hours. It was a great level of play."

The Bob O'Connor Classic was the first of two tournaments McAllister played this summer. A Shadyside resident, she also competed last week in the Fox Chapel USTA Junior Open 18-and-under singles and doubles tournaments, but bowed out in the first round of each.

"That's always a tough competition," McAllister said. "It's very competitive."

Now McAllister is preparing for her senior season at Ellis, where she'll almost assuredly be the Tigers' top player this season.

McAllister played No. 1 singles for the Tigers as a freshman and sophomore and won the Class AA Section 3 title both years.

But last season she played No. 2 singles for the Tigers as Katie Rosenthal, who played No. 1 singles in 2009, rejoined the team after taking two years off from high school tennis to play on the amateur circuit and reassumed her top spot.

"Maeve doesn't like to back down from a challenge, but she realized sometimes you have to step back and defer to what's best for the team," Ellis coach Doug Brooks said.

"I kept telling her that I really hope she's playing No. 7 on her team. She didn't get it at first, but she realized what I meant was that if she's that far down on the list, we have a great team."

With Rosenthal and McAllister leading the way, Ellis finished third in the WPIAL Class AA tournament and qualified for the PIAA team tournament for the first time since 2001.

Now that Rosenthal has graduated, McAllister will likely assume the role of top player and team leader.

"I think it was really good for me to step back last year," McAllister said. "Katie's a great player and I think just by practicing with her every day and having her on the team, we were better.

"Now I'm looking forward to this year, too."

Ellis lost in the first round of the tournament to Mercyhurst Prep, 4-1. Now McAllister wants to lead the Tigers deeper into the season this fall.

Brooks, who has given lessons to McAllister since she was 8 years old, has no doubt about how good of a leader McAllister will be.

"She has great leadership qualities," Brooks said. "I expect her to take the young girls under her wing and help them transition so they can take on leadership roles when she is gone.

"There's no doubt Maeve is a team captain this year. She was always ready for that role."



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