DuBOIS — The St. Marys girls tennis team made it to two titles in two postseason tournaments Monday, with the sister duo of Lilia and Davan Lion making a little history in the process by beating teammates Izzy Ehrensberger and Brooke Henry, 6-1, 6-0, in an all-Lady Dutch finals.
The Lions — Lilia (sophomore) and Davan (freshman) — are just the second set of sisters to ever capture a District 9 doubles crown and first to do so in Class AA since girls tennis was split into two classifications (AA, AAA) in 1998. Prior to ’98, there was just one combined class for girls tennis from 1973-1997.
The only other sister pairing to win a D-9 doubles crown was DuBois twins Kristina and Alisha Torretti, who won the Class AAA title as seniors in 2012.
The district title is the first for each Lion sister, with the doubles crown being the first for St. Marys in a decade. Senior Kelsey Hansen and junior Megan Herbstritt were the last Lady Dutch pair to win doubles back in 2008.
The Lions will now join teammate Samantha Hayes in competing at the PIAA Championships in Hersey on Nov. 2-3. Hayes, a sophomore, collected her second straight singles title last week.
“It’s pretty special to win with my sister and see both our teams make the finals today,” said Lilia Lion. “It’s nice that we can always practice together and with our parents (coaches Dave and Rona Lion). They’re always helping us and giving us tips on how to get better. A lot of this (success) is our parents’ help.
“We get along really well, and it’s extremely easy for us to play together. She (Davan) always has my back. Even today, I missed a couple shots when I was up at the net, and she was right there and got them back over for me.
Monday’s doubles tournament belonged to St. Marys, as both its teams combined to go 5-0 en route to making the finals.
The Lions sisters lost just five games in two matches after getting a first-round bye.
They beat the Elk County Catholic duo of Maggie Challingsworth and Victoria Glatt, 10-1, in the quarterfinals before upending Johnsonburg’s top team of Anna Cristini and Madison Amacher, 6-2, 6-2, in the semifinals. Challingsworth and Glatt blanked Bradford’s Claire Heffner and Michaela Terry, 10-0, in the opening round.
Cristini and Amacher won the first two games of the match vs. the Lions, but the sister dup promptly ripped off six straight games to take the opening set before winning by the identical score in set No. 2.
The Ramette duo opened with a tough 10-8 win against Clearfield’s No. 2 team of Samantha Wisor and Kirstie vanTassel, 10-8, before besting Punxsy’s second team of Camden Emhoff and Taegan Ludwig, 10-3, in the quarters. Emhoff and Ludwig upended Brockway’s top squad of Savannah Buttery and Morgan Pirow, 10-7, in the first round.
On the bottom half of the bracket, Ehrensberger (senior) and Henry (sophomore) won three straight matches against No. 1 teams — dropping eight games along the way — to set up the finals showdown with their teammates.
Ehrensberher and Henry opened with a 10-1 win against Bradford’s Lillian Baldwin and Lauren before knocking off ECC’s Emma Coppolo and Marley Sorg, 10-3, in the quarterfinals. The ECC pair opened with a 10-1 victory against Brockway’s Kenzie Hook and Lily Henry.
Coppolo, a senior, knows what it feels like to win the doubles crown, as she teamed up as a sophomore with then senior Maria Hoh to win the title in 2016.
Ehrensberger and Henry then punched their ticket to the finals with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Punxsy’s top squad of Abby Gigliotti and Alex Campbell. The Lady Chucks notched a 10-1 triumph in the quarters against Johnsonburg’s Alex Hodgdon and Chloe Trumbull, who pulled out a tight 11-9 win in their opener vs. Clearfield’s Kylie VanTassel and Allyson Gaines.
Gigliotti reached last week’s singles finals, losing in straight sets to Hayes, 6-0, 6-0.
As for the finals, it started off a closely contested match between the two St. Marys squads. The first four games went to 40-30 or beyond, with the Lions making the necessary key shots win the first three games to go up 3-0.
Ehrensberger and Henry broke Lilia Lion’s serve in the fourth game to make it 3-1, but the Lion sisters got rolling from there and won the last three games with relative eaze to take the opening set 6-1.
The second set featured several close games, but again it was the Lion sisters who seemed to make the big shot when needed late on those games to pull out the win on their way to taking the set 6-0 to sweep their way to the title.
The Lion sisters broke their teammates serve three times in the second set and seven times in the match.
“We got where we needed to be for the day, and I though all four girls played very well all day,” said St. Marys coach Dave Lion. “It would have been great to have a 7-6, 7-6 match between them (finalists), but I’m very pleased with how things worked out.
“It’s always a point here or there between them, and when the deuce points or important points came along, Lilia and Davan ended up playing those just a little better today. That was probably the difference in the match.
Dave Lion also said it was special to watch his daughters win the title together.
“It was awesome as a coach and a dad to watch them win it, and for them to do it as a sophomore and freshman is pretty cool,” said Lion. “Hopefully this continues. We’re always looking forward and just trying to get better.
“It’s going to be great for them to experience states being so young to help them for the future. Sam (Hayes) has been there before, and Lilia went last year to watch her play and she at least had seen the atmosphere a little. Now, Davan gets to go, and she and Lilia actually get to play doubles down there.”
The Lions open state play on Nov. 2 against the third-seeded team out of the WPIAL (District 7).