Last Updated: Tue Sep 26, 2023 - 7:03PM
As a freshman in 2022, Belle Vernon Area’s Gabby Dusi qualified for the WPIAL Class 2A Singles Tournament, but suffered a first-round loss. A year later, Dusi wrote a much different ending, as she overwhelmed the competition in winning the district title last week.
“I knew that if I played my best, I could contend,” Dusi said. “I knew going in that anyone could be able to win. It was mostly about gaining confidence through each match.”
Dusi entered as the No. 5 seed, but she left no doubt as to who was the best in the field. In the opening round, Dusi notched a 10-2 win against No. 12 seed Maria Sirianni of Sewickley Academy. In the quarterfinals, she knocked off the first of three higher-seeded opponents, besting Greensburg Central Catholic junior Sasha Hoffman 10-2.
In the semifinals, Dusi faced the top seed, Winchester Thurston’s Cecilia Gurgel. Dusi prevailed in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
As a result, Dusi advanced to the championship match last Thursday against second-seeded Chloe DeSanzo of Beaver Area. Playing at North Allegheny High School, Dusi secured the gold with another straight-sets win, 6-1, 6-0.
“It was mostly just staying in the moment and not thinking too far ahead,” she said of the championship match. “It helped knowing that I had qualified for state, because that was kind of the end goal of this tournament. I felt a little less pressure going into the finals.”
In the process, she became the first Belle Vernon Area athlete to capture a tennis crown. The Leopards do not sponsor a girls tennis team, however, so Dusi does not regularly play in matches in WPIAL action. Instead, her opportunity came in the singles sectional tournament.
“It makes it difficult to a point because I’m not used to playing the section matches and I really don’t know any of the girls before going into the tournament, but I worked a lot with my coach and I felt like I was prepared,” she detailed.
Dusi, as well as DeSanzo and Gurgel, advance to the PIAA Class 2A tournament, which will be held in Hershey on Nov. 3-4. With six weeks before that event, Dusi will continue to hone her skills.
“We’re going to just tighten things up,” she said of her objectives in working with her coach. “My goal is to try to make it through every match and see how far I can go.”