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North Penn’s Velaga to face familiar opponent in District 1-AAA final

North Penn's Neha Velaga advanced to the District 1-AAA girls tennis singles final on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Evan Easterling/For Digital First Media)

PHILADELPHIA >> A pair of friends will battle for the District 1 Class AAA girls tennis singles title on Oct. 24.

North Penn’s Neha Velaga and Council Rock North’s Amelia Honer each won their quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Saturday at the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Center to advance to face each other in the championship. They will return to the East Falls tennis complex for the title match.

Honer, Velaga and Souderton junior Caitlin Le, who Honer beat, 6-4, 6-4, to advance to the final, have faced each other in high school matches and USTA competitions.

“I’m excited,” Honer said. “Playing Neha is always really fun, and we’re good friends, so it should be a good match.”

The title match will be a matchup of the top two seeds in the bracket. Honer, the No. 2 seed, came back from a 4-2 deficit in the second set after losing a break point on deuce situation. Souderton’s Le nearly broke her to take a 5-2 lead, but she held serve by winning the advantage. Honer broke Le while trailing, 4-3, and then again to win the match.

“I was focused on being aggressive, trying to move her around and trying to keep myself together mentally because she gets every single ball back,” Honer said.

Souderton’s Caitlin Le lost in the District 1-AAA girls tennis singles semifinals to Council Rock North’s Amelia Honer on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Evan Easterling/For Digital First Media)

Honer said breaking Le helped her feel more comfortable on her service game. Honer also broke Le to win the first set.

“She was really consistent, and she was stepping in on a lot of my balls,” Le said. “She was being really aggressive. She wasn’t playing defensive. She was just stepping in really well and she was playing really well at the net.”

Velaga started her day by beating Central Bucks East’s Sydney Lund, 6-2, 6-2. She then beat Downingtown West’s Jordan Bradley by the same score in the semifinal round.

Le faces Bradley in the third-place match Oct. 24. All four semifinalists qualified for the PIAA singles tournament Nov. 2-3 at Hershey Racquet Club.

Before Saturday, Bradley had only dropped two games in the district tournament. She beat both Methacton’s Dina Nouaime and Phoenixville’s Julia Gumienak, 6-0, 6-1, to reach the quarterfinal round.

The second game of the second set was one of the key events of the match, North Penn coach Alex DeCecco said. After winning the first set, Velaga won a game that went to deuce to avoid going down 2-0 and hold serve. Then she broke Bradley later in the set while leading, 4-2.

Velaga and Honer faced each other earlier this season, and Velaga won in three sets, DeCecco said.

“She’s just mentally tough,” he said. “Besides her game on the court, she’s so mentally tough and so mature out there.”

Velaga said attacking at the net helped her beat Bradley. She remains undefeated as she advances to the final.

“It feels amazing to represent North Penn,” Velaga said. “It feels really good.”

North Penn’s Neha Velaga advanced to the District 1-AAA girls tennis singles final on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Evan Easterling/For Digital First Media)

Lower Moreland’s Lisovyy wins District 1-AA singles title

Lower Moreland’s Nikole Lisovyy won a battle of two freshmen to claim the district singles title.

She beat Delaware County Christian School’s Brette Foutch, 6-3, 6-4, in the early afternoon.

Lisovyy has found immediate success at the high school level after previously being home-schooled for two years and training in Florida.

Lower Moreland coach Jeanette Hausman said Lisovyy played aggressively even though she didn’t have her best performance. Lisovyy said keeping Foutch behind the baseline was important to her success.

“As soon as (Foutch) got into the court, she was always hitting such amazing shots and I was having a hard time getting it back,” Lisovyy said. “But when I was keeping her back, she was making more errors, which went to my benefit.”

“She stayed aggressive on her backhand, tried to keep the balls deep, and to Brette’s credit, she just ran everything down,” Hausman said. “And usually when Nikole hits those kind of shots, those points are out of the picture, and Brette just ran everything down today so it made it for a tough match.”

District I Class AAA Results
Quarterfinals
North Penn Neha Velaga def. Central Bucks East Sydney Lund, 6-2, 6-2
Downingtown West Jordan Bradley def. Radnor Kanon Ciarrochi, 6-2, 6-3
Souderton Caitlin Le def. Conestoga Cassidy Landau, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1
Council Rock North Amelia Honer def. Mount Saint Joseph Academy Stow Weiss, 6-0, 6-2
Semifinals
North Penn Neha Velaga def. Downingtown West Jordan Bradley, 6-2, 6-2
Council Rock North Amelia Honer def. Souderton Caitlin Le, 6-4, 6-4
Consolation
Central Bucks East Sydney Lund def. Radnor Kanon Ciarrochi, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
Mount Saint Joseph Academy Stow Weiss def. Conestoga Cassidy Landau, walkover

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