Whitehall-Coplay Press

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Press photo by Steve AndresNatalia Pedraza won her match at number-one singles against Liberty. Press photo by Steve AndresNatalia Pedraza won her match at number-one singles against Liberty.

Tough loss for tennis

Saturday, August 24, 2019 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

It was a grueling four-hour match in the heat, and head coach Whitehall girls tennis coach Alex Green was hoping his team could come up with an improbable win in their opener

They were facing Liberty to start the season on their home court, and the midday sun was relentless. It was the type of day where spectators sought shelter in any sliver of shade available.

As the match began, Whitehall’s top two singles players began to assert control. The Zephyr pair eventually prevailed at No.1 and No.2 singles as both Natalia Pedraza and Noel Yacoub won in straight sets.

Pedraza had her ground strokes working, firing winner after winner. She kept Veronica Lynn struggling to keep up with the pace of her shots the entire match.

At No. 3 singles, Nicole Asmar lost a tiebreaker to begin her match against Angelique Ronca 7-6 (5). It was a long battle between the two, especially in that first set. Ronca finally prevailed, winning the next set 6-2 to take the match.

The Zephs earned a victory at No.2 doubles, regaining their advantage. Heylee Chan and Emily Tran teamed up to defeat Srutia Tekumalla and Emily Masters, 6-4, 6-4.

The Hurricanes evened the scales by winning both No.3 and No.4 doubles. That meant the match was going to be decided at No.1 doubles as Pedraza and Yacoub would square off against Ronca and Lynn.

Both Pedraza and Yacoub had defeated those two individually, and they took the first set 6-4 to begin the match, putting the ‘Cane duo directly behind the Eight Ball. But the ‘Canes fought back, winning the next two sets 6-4, 6-4 to win the set and the match.

“It was a tough loss yesterday,” said Green.

He said that his team was fatigued as they were embroiled in a match that lasted over four hours. However, Green said that Liberty’s players were experiencing the same conditions and definitely earned the win. Still, it was a tough way to lose, he said.

Green said they just couldn’t close out the deciding set after going up 1-0. Green gave a lot of credit to Lynn who preserved through a shoulder injury to help her team start the year 1-0 in an exciting high school opener.

Last year they lost to Liberty 6-1, even though Green said that they played well. The ‘Canes finished the season at 9-7. This year they almost toppled one of the top programs in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

The Zephyrs evened their record at 1-1 with a 4-3 win over Bangor the following afternoon.

As the match got underway, Green felt it would come down to the final set as it had in the opener. And with his squad facing another oppressive day in the sun, it would take a big effort, both mentally and physically.

“It really comes down to a battle of endurance,” said Green.

Both Pedraza and Yacoub remain undefeated on the young season. Pedraza defeated Gioia Beltrano 6-4, 6-2, while Yacoub bested Madelyn Ott 6-0, 6-0.

They swept the singles bracket as Nicole Asmar defeated Emily Brewer 6-3, 6-3.

After the Slaters rallied to win No’s 2, 3 and 4 doubles, the match would once again rest on the pairing of Pedraza and Yacoub. The dynamic duo made sure this match would go into the win column as they won a pro set 8-4.

“We’re elated to win Tuesday against Bangor,” said Green. “Bangor gave us a very tough test and it came down to No.1 doubles again.”

Green said that the pair has played two singles matches and two doubles matches in two days, making it a long two days in the heat.

“I’m proud of the way they’ve competed under difficult and hot circumstances,” said Green.

He also noted a personal milestone.

“It was also a great day for Nicole Asmar who collected her first career singles victory,” he said. “I thought Nicole was flawless in her play today. Nicole is also very mentally tough. She doesn’t let anything phase her and that was a key reason why she won her match Tuesday.”