South Xtra: Peters girls celebrate another state title

TENNIS

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Peters Township shut out every opponent in the 2011 WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA girls team tennis tournaments on their way to their third state championship in six years.

What makes that feat even more impressive is that Peters Township's No. 1 player from last season, Stephanie Smith, decided to focus on her national tournament schedule this season instead of playing high school tennis.

The Indians' No. 2 player last season, Sara Komer, missed the first month of 2012 season with a hamstring injury, which continued to plague her even after she returned.

Peters Township also had to replace three other starters from last year's team who graduated. But last Saturday, it was the Indians who once again were celebrating at the Hershey Racquet Club.

Peters Township beat Unionville, 3-0, to win its second consecutive PIAA Class AAA title, third in four years and fourth since 2006.

"It's special," Peters Township coach Brandt Bowman. "We set goals at the beginning of the season to defend our section, WPIAL and state titles.

"When we lost to Mt. Lebanon in midseason [non-section match], a lot of people were wondering if we could do it. But I think we knew we could."

It wasn't as easy as last year, however. The Indians rematch with Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL semifinals, with a state tournament berth on the line, was a nail-biter. But Peters pulled out a 3-2 victory then went on to beat Shady Side Academy, 5-0, in the finals to repeat as district champs.

At the state tournament, Peters won its first match 5-0, but lost one match in both the quarterfinals and semifinals.

In the championship match, despite the score, Peters Township was in danger of losing. Indians sophomore Abby Cummings, who didn't lose a match at No. 3 singles in the postseason, won her match 7-5, 6-2, and the No. 1 doubles team of Vida Komer and Jen Holcombe also got a straight-set victory, 6-4, 6-2.

But the Indians were losing close matches at both No. 1 and No. 2 singles. That became moot, however, once Megan Hixon and Morgan Parisi pulled out a tough three-set victory, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, at No. 2 doubles to give Peters Township its clinching point. By winning three matches, Peters clinched the victory and the other two matches were halted.

"If we don't pull out that No. 2 doubles point, there's a realistic chance we would have lost," Bowman said. "It was really tight. It's all about handling nerves. It's all about who can handle the pressure and we seem to be able to do that."

Vida Komer, the lone senior starter on the squad, became the first player in program history to win three state titles. It was the second title for returning sophomore starters Sara Komer, Vida's sister, and Cummings. The duo will try to add a doubles state championship this weekend. Sara Komer won the doubles state championship with Smith last season.

Bowman, who started coaching the girls team in 2004, said the success the team has had over the past seven years has bred more success.

"Since 2006, we've had a tradition here," Bowman said. "When we won that year, some of the girls on this team might have been 10 and saw those girls winning a championship and wanted to be a part of that here.

"I think it ultimately comes down to depth. If you watch our doubles team against other teams at states, we're a cut above."

With the possible return of six of its seven starters, the Indians figure to be very strong top to bottom once again next season.

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