Conestoga girls’ tennis team defeats Harriton in district semifinal; falls in final

Conestoga freshman Ashley Griffith entered her semi-final match knowing it could be pivotal if her team had a chance to the advance to the PIAA District One Class AAA girls’ tennis final.

With Harriton leading 2-1 and needing to win only one of the remaining two matches, Griffith remained focused and played a methodical third set to earn the hard fought 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 victory and even the match at 2-2.

“I was really focused,” said Griffith, who had lost to Hoog earlier in the season. “I had a game plan that I stuck to and I am really happy to pull one out for the team.”

Griffith added, “That was a big win for me and the team. It was a nice comeback since I lost to her during the regular season and I was really glad to give my team a chance to earn a spot in the finals.”

“Ashley’s win was huge,” said Conestoga coach Fran Tomaselli. “We needed to win one of the singles matches and she just would not quit.  She kept telling me that she could do it and she would fight to the end.  I thought she played a very smart match!”

The Pioneers No. 1 doubles team of Julia Herman and Amy Zhang would follow suit with a three set win of their own over Harriton’s tandem of Sofia Kandoussi and Lauren Binnion to clinch the match and push Conestoga into the final against top-seeded West Chester Henderson.

Amy and I weren’t told we were the deciding match but I just assumed we were since everyone was watching us,” said senior co-captain Julia Herman.

Following an emotionally draining match against their Central League rivals, the Pioneers had to get back on the court to play West Chester Henderson for the district title.

Unfortunately, the Warriors proved to be too much handing the Pioneers a 3-0 defeat with the final two matches not being completed since the match had already been decided.

The loss does not dampen the special year to date Conestoga has had including a seventh consecutive Central League championship; a victory over Harriton to advance to the district finals and another berth in the state tournament.

“It means a lot to return to the state tournament,” said Herman. “We were not sure what to expect this year but came together as one unit and pull through. Hopefully we can win our regional round and have a chance to get back to Hershey.”

Griffith added, “This year has been awesome and hopefully we can make a nice run in states and continue this special year.”

Tomaselli added, “This has been a very surprising season mainly because we lost some very good players from last season, so making it to the state championships is great!  If we win our first round and go to Hershey, well, that would be the sweetest.”

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