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Local tennis community shows colors

October 16, 2007
By Neil Rudel
Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while enjoying the fall weather:

ITEM: Tennis benefit raises $7,000.

Kudos to the local tennis community, which pulled together Sunday and raised more than $7,000 for the Allison Schmitt Medical Fund.

Allison, an Altoona Area High School freshman tennis player, was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

According to her father, Tom, Allison is progressing well and has maintained an incredibly positive attitude.

Credit goes to AAHS coach Eric Hovan for coordinating Sunday’s event. The local tennis community is unique in that it has two fine facilities in ProCare and the Summit Tennis & Athletic Center, a fact that naturally breeds competition.

But both clubs cooperated to the fullest and were part of this benefit, donating their courts. Outdoor facilities at Mansion Park and Leopold were used as well.

Between junior and adult events, Hovan said a total of 130 players participated.

Here’s to Allison Schmitt’s full recovery.

ITEM: Villanova tabs Doug West.

The former Altoona Area High School star and 12-year NBA veteran had been hoping for the right opportunity to coach in men’s college basketball, and this certainly is the perfect fit.

West, of course, is a product of Villanova, and he’s very good friends with current head coach Jay Wright, an assistant in the late ’80s when West played for the Wildcats.

His outgoing personality, knowledge of the game and work ethic should make West, now 40, a valuable asset to Villanova, which is a perennial NCAA Tournament contender with a rich history and a program with a lot to sell.

ITEM: Pitt sinks to 2-4.

It’s nearly unfathomable that the Big East is rising in national stature to the extent that it is totally in spite of Pitt and Syracuse — Penn State’s two old rivals that never managed to lure the Nittany Lions into the Big East.

That lack of vision, of thinking they didn’t need Penn State, dented the two once-proud programs to the point that they are looking up at West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati and now way up at South Florida.

Turning Pitt on last Wednesday night and seeing the Panthers lose to Navy in front of a half-full Heinz Field had to be an insult to the many former Pitt greats, not to mention their fans.

Then again, with the way he coached the game’s final two plays, maybe Dave Wannstedt didn’t want to stay longer than he had to, either.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or

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