PENN TWP — An unlikely tandem, yet an effective one.
Knoch graduate Austin Thomasmeyer, at 6-foot-4, teamed with 12-year-old Elle Santora to represent Butler Country Club in the 18-under division of the 19th annual West Penn Inter-Club Mixed Doubles Jr. Team Tennis Championship June 26.
The event took place on the BCC courts. Thomasmeyer and Santora won four of their five matches in the round-robin format, dropping only a 5-1 decision to event champion Mount Lebanon.
“They do look different out there,” BCC tennis pro Whitney Snyder said. “She’s about half his size.”
Thomasmeyer played tennis at Knoch and hopes to play on the club team at UNC-Wilmington, where he plans to major in business.
Santora qualified to play in the 12-under division Thursday, but Thomasmeyer needed a partner.
“We had no one else to play there and (Snyder) asked me,” Santora said. “I decided to do it. This experience is great for me.”
Santora has been playing tennis since age 4. She is only entering seventh grade, but plans to play for the Butler High School team in a couple of years. Her ultimate goal is to play Division I college tennis.
“I love this game. It’s so much fun,” Santora said.
And she’s good at it.
The shots came at her harder in the 18-under division, but Santora has played against older kids before.
“We make a good doubles team, actually,” Thomasmeyer said. “With her ground strokes and footwork, my serve and play at the net, we have it covered.
“The big thing in doubles is communication. We talk to each other all the time. We both know the game.”
Thomasmeyer and Santora have played tennis together before as both have been BCC youth tennis members for a long time.
But this was the first time Santora has played against this many older opponents in a tournament.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking,” she said. “I didn’t know if I’d be good enough to hold up.
“Austin is a great partner. It’s fun playing with him. We high-five each other and talk to each other all the way through.”
Thomasmeyer now plays tennis with a knee brace. He suffered an injury during his sophomore year at Knoch and the knee still dislocates from time to time. He could not return to tennis until his senior season.
Mount Lebanon won nine of its 10 total matches to win the team title Thursday.
Its 18-under duo’s only loss was to the Lakevue Athletic Club tandem of Jordan Bechak and Celeste Lussier.
BCC finished second with an 8-2 record. Its 12-under duo of Mark Terchick and Reagan Sommariva won four of their five matches.
Terchick, a Pine-Richland student, had only been a BCC youth tennis member for three weeks. He received the 12-under extra effort award. Lussier received the 18-under extra effort award.
Other participating programs Thursday were Chapel Gate out of Fox Chapel, Forest Hills out of Monroeville and Sewickley Area.