Bauer heading to Lafayette
JEFFERSON TWP — Sibling rivalry? Perhaps.
But Knoch senior Ally Bauer views older sister Brooke Bauer in a different light.
“She’s been my role model,” Ally said. “I’ve always wanted to do what she did. Following in her footsteps is challenging at times, but it’s been beneficial.”
Brooke and Ally Bauer were teammates on a PIAA Class 2A girls tennis championship squad at Knoch. Brooke is now playing tennis at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, N.Y.
Ally recently signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and tennis career at Lafayette College. She is undecided on her major.
“The good mix of academics and tennis there are what attracted me,” Ally said of Lafayette. “I feel like I can positively grow in both directions by going there.”
Ally also considered St. Joseph’s and Christopher Newport (Va.) before opting for Lafayette. The Leopards’ coach the past five seasons has been Ralph Van Order, who has been coaching high-level club tennis for 20 years. He is a 1993 Slippery Rock University graduate and a former tennis player there.
During her tennis career at Knoch, Ally was part of three WPIAL doubles championship tandems, two WPIAL and PIAA team titles.
“She’s one of the most decorated athletes to come through our school,” Knoch athletic director Kurt Reiser said. “Ally is simply a tremendous tennis player.”
Knoch girls tennis coach Nance Conlon said she admires the way Ally has handled herself coming through the system after Brooke.
“When you have an older sister as successful in a sport as Brooke — and you play that same sport — that can be difficult sometimes,” Conlon said. “But Ally embraced it. She used it. I couldn’t be more proud of two girls.”
Ally said it was “a benefit” following Brooke through the program.
“She showed me how to get it done,” Ally said of her sister. “Brooke helped me in so many different ways. I know I wouldn’t have had the career I had at Knoch without her.”
Ally helped the Knights into the state championship match by winning the deciding singles match in the semifinal round. Brooke did the same thing two years earlier.
“It was uncanny the way that happened,” Conlon said. “Their careers mirrored each other in so many different ways.
“Ally was a great leader, a great role model. She was a team player here. She has ice in her veins when she’s on the court. Nothing gets to her. I know she’ll be the same way in college.”
Brad Bauer, Brooke and Ally’s father, played tennis at Knoch without a boys team. He entered high school tournaments on his own and eventually taught his daughters the game.
“I introduced them to the game, showed them how to play ... They took off on their own from there,” he said.
Ally said her biggest tennis highlights at Knoch were winning the state championship with her sister and winning that showdown semifinal match to help her team get there her senior year.
Now she’s ready to start all over at the collegiate level.
“I just want to be an asset to the team,” Ally said. “Lafayette is always a strong competitor (in the Patriot League). I know I’ll learn from the coach there.”
“Ally is going to shine there,” Conlon said. “Lafayette is the perfect choice for her. She will be a great asset to the tennis team and the school.”