DuBOIS — Elk County Catholic girls tennis coach Pete Meier saw everything that he could have hoped for from his players on Monday at the District 9 Class AA Doubles Championships at DuBois Area High School.
Meier saw both of his doubles pairings meet in the finals for the second time in five years. In the end, senior Maria Hogh and sophomore Emma Coppolo defeated their teammates in juniors Emily Miller and Jenna Minard, 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) to advance to the PIAA Championships.
“We have good girls and good people that help us,” said Meier. “This means that they’ve worked hard all year, and this is the end result.
“The nice thing as a coach, they ask you, ‘What do we do next?’ I said, ‘We’re going to Hershey.’”
This isn’t the first time in Meier’s coaching career that he’s had two doubles teams meet each other in the finals. In the 2011 season, the Lady Crusaders’ Loreal Housler and Abby Meyer defeated teammates Maria Gismondi and Laira Reuscher, 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 for the title.
Elk County Catholic also won doubles titles in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Hoh and Coppolo, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, started off the day with a first round bye. In the quarterfinals, they defeated Brockway’s Savannah Buttery and Taylor Raybuck, 10-3, and also won a close three-set match in the semifinals, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 over St. Marys’ Jessica Jordan and Leah Gabler.
Miller and Minard became the Cinderellas of the tournament early in the day. After beating Bradford’s Isis Wilcox and Juliah Laemmer, 10-1, in the first round, the Lady Crusaders defeated the top seed in the tournament in Clearfield’s Rachel Homan and Paige Luzier, 10-4.
Miller and Minard went on to beat Brockway’s Cameron Hrin and Gabby Sabatose, 10-2, in the semifinals to make it an all-ECC championship.
In the first set of the championship, Hoh and Coppolo took the first four games and cruised to a 6-1 win.
It had looked like the second set wouldn’t take long either as Hoh and Coppolo jumped out to a 5-2 lead. But Miller and Minard managed to get a break and also won two service games to tie the set up at 5.
Both teams then won their next service games to set up a second-set tiebreaker.
Miller and Minard grabbed the first point in the tiebreaker, but Hoh and Coppolo stormed back to take the next four points. They also won their last two points via the serve to take the championship.
The doubles championship is a first for Hoh, a senior who will be departing the program. Miller and Minard will return next year, while Coppolo will still have two more years with the ECC program.
“We have great kids,” said Meier. “They come to practice, they want to work and they get along.
“I’ve been coaching a long time in a lot of different sports. I don’t think I’ve ever had a group like this. They’re a lot of fun to be around.”
In other area teams throughout the day, Hrin and Sabatose made the semifinals by beating Punxsutawney’s Kaitlyn Doverspike and Alex Campbell, 10-3, before eliminating St. Marys’ Taylor Klaiber and Kayla Mitchell, 10-2, in the quarterfinals.
Klaiber and Mitchell defeated Johnsonburg’s Elizabeth Kemick and Leah Orton, 10-3, in the first round.
Buttery and Raybuck defeated Clearfield’s Myra Kavelak and Courtney Priester, 10-3, before being eliminated by the champions.
Jordan and Gabler beat Johnsonburg’s Heather Zelcs and Emily Catalano, 10-0, in the first round before beating Punxsutawney’s Kaitlyn Ray and Abby Gigliotti, 10-6, in the quarters.
Elk County Catholic will be participating in the District 9 Class AA Team Tournament on Wednesday as they host Johnsonburg in the semifinals. In between the Team Tournament, the Lady Crusaders and Meier will also be working to get Hoh and Coppolo ready for states.
“We’ll practice inside if the weather gets bad,” said Meier. “We’ll put volleyball poles up and put a net between them. Inside, the skipping off the gym floor is about as fast as you’re going to get when you go to Hershey. We’ll keep them busy.”
Hoh and Coppolo will play the District 4 champions on Nov. 4 in the first round of the PIAA Championships at the Hershey Racquet Club.