West Xtra: Beaver duo reaches PIAA tournament

HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS

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Mattie Taylor and Moriah Bridges came up short in their quest to win the WPIAL Class AA doubles title last Thursday, but the Beaver Area players were still excited to make travel plans to Hershey in early November.

Taylor and Bridges won three matches at the WPIAL doubles tournament before falling in the championship match to defending champions Jappman Monga and Amy Cheng of Sewickley Academy, 6-2, 6-2.

"I'm filled with excitement to go to Hershey," said Taylor, a junior. "To get this far with such a young partner, with Moriah being a freshman, is just so much fun."

The Beaver duo had never played doubles together in a competition prior to the Class AA Section 2 tournament, which the pair won easily. But the two have known each other for years, so they said it didn't take long for them to click.

After winning the section title, Bridges and Taylor were seeded third in the WPIAL tournament. They had trouble with Fort Cherry's Sara Jubas and Cheyenne Shankle in the first round, winning, 10-7.

After beating Indiana's Lucy Bujdos and Megan Clawson in the second round, the Beaver pair dispatched of the second-ranked team from Greensburg Central Catholic, Alyvia Kluska and Jordan Smithberger, 6-4, 6-1, to sew up the PIAA berth.

That set up the match against Cheng and Monga, two seniors who haven't lost a set in two years at the WPIAL tournament. But Taylor said she wasn't nervous heading into the match.

"I wasn't nervous," Taylor said. "I also wasn't coming in thinking we were going to pull out the win. I was just open-minded and told myself to play the way we played the day before in getting [to the final] and then it would all play out the way it was supposed to in the end."

Cheng and Monga came out strong, scoring the first four points on their way to a first-set win. The key was their consistency.

"They made very few errors," Beaver coach Riley Baker said. "They didn't hit a lot of winners, they just were steady. I think one of the girls had a double fault, but other than that, I don't think they had any other double faults.

"Our girls started out slowly, but they battled back. The other team was just more consistent."

Taylor and Bridges played well in the second set, taking a 2-1 lead.

Even though the Panthers' pair won the last five games, the Bobcats had their chances. In one game, Bridges and Taylor had four break points, but couldn't capitalize.

"They were playing really well and making us run, and I think we got a little tired," Taylor said. "Then my injury started acting up. But we were more consistent in the second set."

Taylor has battled a shoulder injury for the past two seasons, and also has a sore ankle. But she was able to battle through it and now she and Bridges will get to play at the state tournament.

"It's going to be tough competition, but we're going to play our game and we're tough competition, too," Bridges said. "So we'll see how it goes."

hsother

First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM


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