By BRUCE ADAMS | firstname.lastname@example.org | Daily Local News
November 4, 2023 at 9:06 p.m.
Unionville High School senior Grace Li closed out her legendary Longhorn tennis career on the highest possible note Saturday, capturing her second consecutive PIAA 3A girls’ singles championship at the Hershey Racquet Club.
Li, who earlier this season won the PIAA District 1 3A singles championship as well as her third consecutive Ches-Mont American League singles title, won all four of her PIAA 3A tourney matches in straight sets.
In the PIAA 3A singles championship finals, Li defeated Central Mountain freshman phenom Addison Lindsay, 7-5, 6-0. Lindsay had beaten the District 1 3A runnerup, Council Rock South senior Dasha Chichkina, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, in the state semifinal.
Grace Li with Unionville head coach Janet Johnston following Li’s PIAA 3A state singles championship victory. (photo courtesy of Grace Li)
Li reflected on what this second consecutive state singles title meant to her.
“I’m really happy, and the support I had today was amazing,” said Li. “Two of my teammates were there to watch, as well as Janet (Unionville head coach Janet Johnston), who has with me from the get-go, and the Unionville assistant coaches, Ruth Russell and Anne Church.”
The two teammates Li referred to were fellow seniors Emma and Allie Stanislawcyzk, who captured their third consecutive Ches-Mont American Division doubles title earlier this fall.
“Grace is so well-grounded and humble, she probably doesn’t realize how many people think so well of her,” said Johnston. “Her older brother Vic is like a mentor to her, and her family is very supportive of her tennis career.”
The PIAA 3A singles championship final was interesting in that, while Li had played (and beaten) Chichkina in the state singles final last year, she had never played Lindsay before.
“Addison played very aggressively and has a great serve,” said Li. “Coming into the final match as the defending champion, and playing someone I had not seen before, made me a little nervous. But I tried to push through the nerves, and not think about the pressure or all the people in the stands.”
The first set was tied at 3-3 before Li rallied to win 7-5. The Unionville senior closed it out with a 6-0 win in the second set.
Johnston said, “I think there was some initial trepidation (for Grace) in the finals, it was her last high school match. There’s a lot of pressure on these kids, and they’re expected to do well. When Grace broke (Lindsay’s) serve to go ahead 4-3 – it wasn’t an easy match, that (Lindsay) is going to be a heck of a high school player in the next three years – I think Grace got back to playing her game. She played within herself, and stayed mentally confident. In the second set, Grace was very clinical, dissecting it like a surgeon.”
Unionville senior Grace Li with her championship bracket following her PIAA 3A state singles title Saturday (photo courtesy of Janet Johnston)
On Friday, Li defeated Pine Richland’s Caroline Prisk, 6-1, 6-0, in the opening round, then beat Red Lion senior Lexi Lakatosh, 6-0, 6-1.
In the quarterfinals Saturday, Li defeated Liberty junior Helena Lynn in the semifinals, 6-1, 7-5 Saturday to advance to the finals against Lindsay. Li had played Lynn before in various tournaments, and defeated her in the PIAA 3A state singles semifinals last year.
Next fall, Li will be playing tennis for the U.S. Naval Academy.
“Grace is a very generational player,” said Johnston. “We’re not going to see that type of talent on our team for a while. She started playing tennis when she was very little.”