Shetter's arrival at No. 1 singles set up Butler tennis for run to WPIAL playoffs
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
BUTLER TWP Call it the domino effect.
When freshman Carolyn Shetter earned the No. 1 singles position for the Butler varsity girls tennis team this season, it knocked everybody else down a spot.
And it knocked the Golden Tornado into the WPIALplayoffs for the first time since 2002.
"No question, it made us a better team,"Butler coach Alisa Green said.
Shetter won only seven of 17 matches against the opponent's best player, but she held her own at that spot while enabling teammates to shine at theirs.
Senior Courtney Kerr won 10 of her 15 matches at No. 2 singles. Fellow senior Kristen Cypher won 13 of her 17 matches at No. 3 singles. The senior doubles tandem of Angie Byrnes and Maggie McGinnis won 12 of their 17 matches.
"Carolyn got beaten up a little bit, but she became a better player at the same time,"Green said.
Kerr had no problem losing the top spot to Shetter despite holding it for three years. She knows the feeling from the other side as well, having beaten out older sister and then-senior Madeline Kerr for No. 1 singles as a freshman herself.
"(Shetter) was determined. She plays tennis seven days a week and was just better than me. It was exciting, adding a player that talented to the team," Kerr said.
Cypher also lauded Shetter's play.
"She's such a solid player. We all knew she was coming up to varsity this year,"Cypher said. "Her placement is spectacular and she's a very consistent player. She's hard to break."
A second freshman, Courtney's younger sister, Madison, also made the varsity lineup at No. 2 doubles. She won 10 of 15 matches there during the campaign.
Butler wound up this season at 14-5, defeating Fox Chapel in the first round of the playoffs to post the program's first playoff victory since the 1990s.
The Tornado finished 10-7 last year and 11-7 in 2003.
"We've never been that far away (from the playoffs),"Green said. "We have a lot of seniors and this was going to be their last chance.
"I challenged them to believe in themselves. They had to believe they could do it. Their confidence level was pretty high."
Byrnes, a tri-captain with Kerr and Cypher, enjoyed playing doubles with McGinnis because the two are best friends.
"We still hit together on weekends," she said. "It's a lot less stressful on the court when your doubles partner is your best friend. One of us gets nervous or upset about a play, the other one cracks a joke."
Other seniors on the squad were Melanie Ward and Lauren Southworth. Madison Kerr was 5-0 at No. 2 doubles with junior Katherine Sylvia and also played doubles with juniors Elisa Nesbitt and Hannah Roccki at times.
Other juniors on the squad were Melanie Sessa, Ashley Dills and Alicia Double.
"This program has good numbers, and that promotes good competition for spots,"Green said. "The girls know they have to improve their games if they expect to crack the lineup."
Rachel Wilson, Jamie Daum and Jeannie Hollobaugh were sophomores on this year's team. Rosel Nesbitt and Heather Santa were freshmen.
Shetter and Madison Kerr may be Butler's top two singles players as sophomores next season.
"Losing all the seniors we had will hurt a little, but there's still a lot of talent there,"Courtney Kerr said.
Here are a few individual records of Butler varsity girls tennis players this season:
No. 1 singles Carolyn Shetter (freshman) 7-10
No. 2 singles Courtney Kerr (senior) 10-5
No. 3 singles Kristen Cypher (senior) 13-4
No. 1 doubles Angela Byrnes (senior) and Maggie McGinnis (senior) 12-5
No. 2 doubles Madison Kerr (freshman) and Katherine Sylvia (junior) 5-0