Lady Tiger wins district tennis title

Marissa Lanzel has had a lot of sweet moments in tennis but Saturday was the sweetest for the Hollidaysburg Area High School senior.

Lanzel captured the District 6 tennis singles championship with a straight set (6-3, 6-2) victory over Altoona junior Lauren Lucas on Saturday morning at the Leopold Tennis Center.

“This is incredible,” said Lanzel, a singles runnerup a year ago as well as a doubles champion as a junior and doubles runnerup as a freshman. “This is definitely the sweetest because it’s my senior year, and I’ve been working hard toward getting this for four years.”

Lanzel also has been part of the Lady Tigers’ District 6 team championship run the past three years.

“The crowd was great and I just tried to go out and play my best,” she said. “Lauren is a great competitor, and it was a great match.”

It was the third meeting between the two finalists this season, and Lanzel has won all three.

“It never gets any easier because Lauren is a great player,” Lanzel said. “She has a great style of play and it’s always fun to play her.”

Lucas is a hard hitter and more of an offensive player than Lanzel, who was content to stay on the baseline and play a solid return game.

“I definitely played more defensive today,” Lanzel said. “She hits a hard-paced ball.”

As far as playing in the upcoming PIAA State Tournament, Lanzel noted: “It will be tough competition and you have to be ready for each match. I’ll have to play the best I can play.”

Coach Brian Denis was happy and pleased with Lanzel’s performance.

“I always felt she had the potential to be a district champion,” Denis said. “With all of her medals, she could possibly go down as the most-decorated Hollidaysburg girls tennis player of all time, and she’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever had.

“She played lights out today and executed the game plan.”

Class AA

Kourtney Cavalier of Central Cambria won the Class AA championship by sweeping Ema Juleynova of Tyrone, 6-0, 6-1.

A freshman, Cavalier dominated from start to finish in a match that took slightly more than an hour.

“My serve was doing well and I was able to hold my serve,” Cavalier said. “If my serve is working, everything else falls into place.

“My footwork is really important, too.”

Ironically, Central Cambria High School does not have a tennis program so Cavalier hones her game at the Ebensburg Tennis Center under the coaching of Jamie Taylor.

“I train an hour and a half every day,” Cavalier noted, “and I try to play in two USTA Tournaments a month.

“When the Center opened, I was about 7 or 8,” she said, “and I started working with Coach Taylor then. “I’ve worked with him ever since.”

Cavalier believes her serve and backhand are her strongest assets and she wants to improve her forehand, overheads and volleys.

As far as competing in the PIAA State Tournament in a couple weeks, Cavalier offered:”I Just want to play my best, not got nervous and have a good time.”