South Xtra: Mt. Lebo doubles team is familiar with situation
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As much as a middle-aged individual might find cause to chuckle when a high school student still shy of her 16th birthday says she "goes way back" with a friend, Callie Frey wasn't joking.
A sophomore on the Mt. Lebanon tennis team, Frey was referring to junior teammate Annie Baich. Sure enough, the relationship between Frey and Baich -- primarily due to tennis -- dates back well into their elementary school years.
That familiarity benefited the duo by way of helping it qualify for the PIAA doubles tournament.
Frey and Baich were runners-up at the WPIAL Class AAA doubles tournament last week, earning a berth to the PIAA tournament next month in Hershey in the process.
"We're really hoping to win states this year," Baich said. "We're really excited that we're going. We played doubles together when we were 10 years old, and we've always made a good doubles team. It's really fun playing with her; we've been friends for years.
"We actually both started playing when we were 8 years old at the Mt. Lebanon Tennis Center and took clinics together for years and played some tournaments together for doubles."
Frey and Baich were only the No. 4 seed at their own section doubles tournament -- they took second place -- and were also No. 4 at the WPIAL tournament. The Blue Devils' pair defeated No. 1 seed and defending champion Kylie Isaacs and Mikayla Becich of North Allegheny, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the semifinals before losing to the Peters Township team of Stephanie Smith and Sara Komer in the final.
The PIAA tournament is Nov. 4-5 at the Hershey Racquet Club.
"We're pretty excited about that," Frey said. "We're just hoping to get another chance to beat the team we lost to from Peters."
Funny, because a similar situation exists in the WPIAL team tournament that began earlier this week. Mt. Lebanon opened up as the No. 2 seed -- Peters Township was No. 1.
The Blue Devils blanked Shaler Area, 5-0, Tuesday and are scheduled to play Pine-Richland at home in the quarterfinals today.
Being the reigning WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA runners up -- they lost to Shady Side Academy in each championship match last season -- has made the talented Blue Devils even hungrier this season.
"We just hope to go to states and win states this time," Frey said.
The two finalists qualify for the PIAA team tournament, which is Oct. 25-29 in Hershey.
Considering Mt. Lebanon went undefeated in the regular season, cruising to the Section 4-AAA title, the team is certainly capable of doing just that.
"We came off a wonderful season last year, and our goal was to continue that success and play just as well as we did," Blue Devils coach Ginny Hall said.
Frey built off a strong freshman season in which she was a WPIAL singles semifinalist, maturing into a leader and a reliable presence at first singles.
"She's had so much success in her first two years on the Mt. Lebanon tennis team," Hall said.
Baich also is continuing to progress through quite the high school career. After playing third singles in the past, she moved to second singles this season and was a stalwart at that position.
Another experienced, multiple-year starter for the Blue Devils is senior Claire Healy, who moved from doubles into the third singles spot this season and is a co-captain.
Juniors Jessie Warshaw and Katie Parrish have typically been Mt. Lebanon's first doubles team. In her first season as a starter, Parrish has improved as the season progressed. Senior Julia Rose has been playing with freshman Marikate Reese at second doubles.
Senior Alex Emes and juniors Lauren West, Ava Graham and Haley Frielino also have proven capable of winning matches when called upon.
"One of the reasons why we were so successful last year was because of the chemistry and how well the girls brought that along with them onto the court," Hall said. "They realized that coming into this season, and that's allowed us to just be content to do what we've done.
"The girls really do enjoy their time with each other and have formed strong, true friendships on and off the court. That cooperation helps us."
In addition to the team playoffs this week, Mt. Lebanon was scheduled to play an exhibition benefit match against Bethel Park. The teams were to wear pink uniforms and use pink balls in an effort to raise awareness for breast cancer.
First Published October 13, 2011 12:00 am