Maria Santilli had a tough break to start the season, but by the endthe breaks all went her way.
Santilli, the Norwin junior who has since committed to Cincinnati, broke her foot in the summer the same year the WPIAL moved back the singles championships for a month, which gave her time to heal. Then prohibitive favorite Anna Li of North Allegheny dropped out of the tournament because of injury.
All this made Santilli the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL tournament and she rode it all the way to the school's first tennis title. The state's second-ranked junior then did what almost every other WPIAL champion in the highest classification does – she followed it up with a state crown.
Since the PIAA split into two classifications in 1998 the WPIAL has now won 15 titles in 19 years, had at least one finalist 18 times and four times had an all-WPIAL showdown. Santilli became the latest with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over George Washington sophomore and Kyrgyzstan native Eliza Askarova, the District 12 champion.
Over the last couple of years, Indiana has gotten more competitive in girls tennis.
Last season the Little Indians lost to Quaker Valley in the WPIAL third-place consolation match and, the year before, gave Sewickley Academy a run for its money before losing a 4-1 decision in the championship match.
Even though the team has gotten better, Indiana had never had an individual even play in a singles or doubles championship match.
That is, until this year, when the Little Indians put its doubles team of Kelsey Heckert and Katie McLaughlin into the WPIAL finals against teammates Margaux Marcus and Lauren Bertig. Heckert and McLaughlin won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, but both earned spots in the PIAA finals.
Marcus and Bertig defeated District 12 champions Eliza Murphy and Alison Su of Masterman in the first round before losing to eventual state champions Molly Ehrig and Brooke Adams of Bethlehem Catholic in the quarterfinals. Heckert and McLaughlin made it all the way to the semifinals and finished third after defeating Anna Kate Schreck and Leah McAvoy of Wyomissing, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, I the consolation match.