A pair of ninth graders wrap up a strong start to their careers in the ultimate destination for high school tennis players in the state. Riverside’s Karissa Ghigiarelli and Abington Heights’ Bella Peters, both in their first varsity seasons, play in the first round of their respective classification’s PIAA tournaments at the Hershey Racquet Club. Today, Ghigiarelli faces East Pennsboro sophomore Ava Lewis, the third-place player from District 3, at 8:30 a.m. in Class 2A. “I am really super excited about having the opportunity to compete and I am so appreciative of Riverside for allowing me to compete and have this opportunity,” said Ghigiarelli, who attends cyber school. Peters takes on District 3 champion Amanda Hagino of Hempfield at 11:30 a.m. in Class 3A. “I am really looking forward to this opportunity,” Peters said. “I know there are a lot of very talented players and this is going to be an excellent challenge. “And I think it’s going to be a really cool experience.” Should either player win, they will advance to the afternoon quarterfinal matches. Both Ghigiarelli and Peters, longtime friends, made quite a first impression as the upstarts in the Lackawanna League, They came into the preseason with a lot of hype as ranked freshmen players who competed all summer at USTA Middle States Junior events. Ghigiarelli even went to Puerto Rico during the season and is already considered a three-star player and is ranked No. 8 overall in the state with a 40-31 record in tournaments according to her profile at tennisrecruiting.net. Peters is also on the Pennsylvania Top 100 recruit list among freshmen on tennisrecruiting.net, landing at No. 18. She has an 11-11 record in USTA tournament events according to the web site. In the Lackawanna League, they stormed through the regular season unbeaten, and didn’t face each other head to head as Riverside and Abington Heights played when Ghigiarelli competed at the national event in Puerto Rico. During the season, Ghigiarelli (17-0) dominated going 12-0 and losing only a total of three games with all coming against Wallenpaupack’s Phoebe Cykosky. She followed that up by going 5-0 in the district singles tournament and lost only one game, beating the two-time champion Brianna Pizzano of Wyoming Area, 6-0, 6-0 in the final. Lewis defeated Bishop McDevitt’s Makayla Burkholder, 6-0, 6-1, and Delone Catholic’s Becca Dolce, 6-2, 6-2, before losing to eventual District 3 champion Alex Jadic of Wyomissing, 6-2, 6-3, in what was Jadic’s closest match of the tournament. Defending state champion Brenna Magliochetti of Bethlehem Catholic is in Ghigiarelli’s half of the bracket. There are also two other freshmen — South Williamsport’s Olivia Dorner (No. 2) and Lower Moreland’s Nikole Lisovyy (No. 4) — in the tournament who are ranked as top recruits in their class. “Everyone in the tournament is very talented,” Ghigiarelli said. “I know a lot of the girls from competing against them in Middle States, so I know this is going to be a very competitive tournament and I am really looking forward to playing.” As Ghigiarelli rolled, so too did Peters. She also went undefeated and lost only one set which came against Cykosky in the final match of the regular season. She led Abington Heights to the District 2 Class 3A team championship and won the singles title with three wins in straight sets, including a 6-3, 6-0 win over the top seed, Lily Nowak of Hazleton Area. Her record heading into the state tournament is 21-0. Hagino won four matches in the District 3 tournament and lost only two games. Last season, Hagino lost to North Allegheny’s Ashley Huang, the eventual state champion, 6-1, 6-0. “I have worked hard in practice,” Peters said. “Ever since I knew that I qualified I have been working on some things. I think it is really more about working on and playing my game rather than focusing on the opponent. “I am looking forward to playing.” Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570-348-9125; @sportsTT on Twitter

HS TENNIS: Freshman Stars Embark On Journey To State Championships
HS TENNIS: Freshman Stars Embark On Journey To State Championships

Source: The Associated Press