During her freshman year at The Ellis School in 2009, Kate Rosenthal starred as the team's No. 1 singles player and qualified for the WPIAL Class AA singles tournament.
Although she didn't win a match at the WPIAL tournament, she was just a freshman and had three more years ahead of her to advance further.
But after consulting her coaches and family, she decided the best path to improvement was not to play high school tennis during her sophomore and junior years, but instead to play a junior national schedule.
She traveled all around the country, going as far as California, playing against the top competition in her age group. She doesn't regret the decision.
"It was really difficult," Rosenthal said. "You're playing against the best players in the country. But it was fulfilling. It made me a lot better player."
After two years on the circuit, she got the attention of colleges. She said she is looking at many Division III schools, because she likes them more academically than the Division I schools recruiting her.
Now, with her goal of playing college tennis looking very attainable, she decided to go back and play for Ellis during her senior year.
"I really had a lot of fun my freshman year," Rosenthal said. "I wanted to be a part of a team and just have fun my senior year."
Since she was the only freshman on the team in 2009, none of her teammates on that squad currently play for the Tigers. Although the players have changed, Rosenthal's role has not, as she stepped right back into her No. 1 spot on the Ellis team.
But she had some competition for the spot this time.
Maeve McAllister started at No. 1 singles her freshman and sophomore year while Rosenthal was absent, qualifying for the WPIAL Class AA singles tournament both seasons. Now she's No. 2 and it has made Ellis dominant so far this season.
"If Katie wasn't there, Maeve would be playing the best of the best and she would do well," Ellis coach Doug Brooks said. "But now, Maeve gets to slide down to No. 2 and it just makes our team so much deeper."
Both Rosenthal and McAllister went into the Section 3-AA singles tournament last Thursday and Friday undefeated in the regular season. The duo met in the championship match, with Rosenthal winning in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
Both qualified for the WPIAL Class AA tournament that begins today at Keystone Oaks High School in Mt. Lebanon. Prelimnary-round matches begin at 11 a.m. They will be looking to finish in the top three and qualify for the PIAA tournament.hsother