Whitehall-Coplay Press

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Press photo by Steve AndresWhitehall’s Noel Yacoub stepped into the number-one spot and won for the Zephs. Press photo by Steve AndresWhitehall’s Noel Yacoub stepped into the number-one spot and won for the Zephs.

Zephs top Pleasant Valley in tennis

Thursday, September 5, 2019 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

Friday’s tennis match against Pleasant Valley tested Whitehall’s depth and tenacity, and the Zephyrs scored big on both fronts.

After surviving a busy week in which they had four matches scheduled, Whitehall was faced with the challenge of playing Pleasant Valley without their No. 1 singles player. Natalia Pedraza, who is currently 4-1 on the year, was going to miss the match versus the Bears, forcing head coach Alex Green to juggle the lineup against a good team from the northern climes of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

The Zephs moved Noel Yacoub up to the No. 1 spot and the senior responded with a straight set victory over Riley Wagner. Yacoub defeated Wagner 6-3, 6-3 to get the Zephs a critical win among their singles matches.

With the Zephyrs in need of some momentum against the surging Bears, they found it among the ranks of their doubles players as all three doubles teams scored clutch victories.

Heylee Chan and Emily Tran got the ball rolling at No. 2 doubles, toppling Julia DeYoung and Kara Thourot, 6-0, 7-5.

That put the spotlight on the duo of Sydney Holderman and Afaf Nazif at No. 3 doubles, and the pair came through with a win, defeating Cassidy Shupp and Shylah Healy, 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, the match was sealed at No. 4 doubles as Miranda Ortiz and Emily Williams set down Ashley Kovacs and Julianna Tivenan in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.

It was a rousing win for the Zephyrs who climbed to 4-2 on the season after the match.

“Friday was a really important win for our season,” said Green. “We were a little shorthanded, as was Pleasant Valley, and we had a lot of players step up in a clutch situation.

“Miranda Ortiz and Emily Williams came up really big for us. They’ve played a lot of junior varsity tennis this year and last, and they came up with their first win in a very crucial spot. We’re extremely proud of them.”

Green said that everyone played well, and when they needed a boost from their doubles teams, they stood up and met the challenge. He said that Afaf and Holderman earned a tough win at No. 3 doubles, helping to pave the way for the victory.

“It’s been great to see Afaf and Sydney stay positive after losing their first few matches,” said Green. “They’ve had a great attitude and they’ve rebounded to win back-to-back matches.”

Chan and Tran’s contribution on Friday was a continuation of what they’ve been doing all year for the Zephs. Green said that they’ve become a reliable force since the season began.

“Our No. 2 doubles team continues to be one of the most consistent components of our team, as Heylee and Emily have developed a nice chemistry together,” said Green.

And they wouldn’t have pulled out the victory without Yacoub’s turn at No. 1 singles, a move that got them rolling.

“Noel was great for us,” said Green.

The Zephs have aspirations of making the district playoffs as one of the top eight teams, and Friday’s win was a big step in that direction.

“I’m just really proud of our whole team, including the girls who lost tough matches like Nicole Asmar and Marina Fayez,” said Green. “They fought hard today, came up a bit short, and I’m extremely happy with their effort.”