Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rams Might Rule Courts Pine-Richland Optimistic with Strong Singles Play

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rams Might Rule Courts Pine-Richland Optimistic with Strong Singles Play

Article excerpt

Pine-Richland has been playing boys' tennis at the Class AAA level in the WPIAL since the turn of the 21st century.

Played it quite well, too. The Rams have qualified for the WPIAL playoffs three of four seasons and advanced to the quarterfinals twice. Before joining Class AAA in 2000, Pine-Richland made it to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals the two years prior.

But to coach Janet Chapel and the players, it has probably seemed as if the powerhouses of the WPIAL were in a different stratosphere of WPIAL Class AAA. With schools like Upper St. Clair, Shady Side Academy, Mt. Lebanon and North Allegheny comprising 12 of the last 14 berths in the WPIAL Class AAA team finals, the Rams were also- rans among that elite grouping.

"We have always expected to make the playoffs," Chapel said. "But what we want to do now is go deep into the WPIAL tournament. We were in the quarters last year, but we always have had a tough draw in the first or second round. Sometimes it takes a while to get respect [from the WPIAL committee] to get a good seed. We are in that position now [finally]."

Pine-Richland has finished in second place in Section 6-AAA to Shady Side Academy in recent years. The Rams are confident, however, this is the season they will break through.

"The last couple years, we definitely felt like we were the second team in our section," junior Steve Eaglen said. "But now we feel like the first. We're looking to beat Shady Side Academy and move on to the WPIALs and eventually, states."

The team's confidence is not merely blind faith; it's based on the talent on hand. Pine-Richland returns its top five players, said Chapel. Further, the Rams welcome three new players to the roster that Chapel said have ability levels on par or better than the five who led the Rams to a 17-4 record in 2004.

"We have two additions who might be stronger than last year's No. …

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