CRANBERRY TWP — Reagan Sommariva and the North Catholic girls tennis team continue making history together.
The Trojanette senior — the team's No. 1 singles player and captain — helped the squad snare its first-ever WPIAL playoff win this season (3-2 over Central Valley). She teamed with Riley Pylant to place third in WPIAL doubles, becoming the first North Catholic netters to medal in the district tourney.
Now she's become the first North Catholic girls tennis player to extend her career to college, signing a letter of intent with Division II Belmont Abbey in Charlotte, N.C., recently.
A Butler resident, Sommariva attended Butler Area High School and played tennis for the Golden Tornado her freshman and sophomore years. She transferred to North Catholic prior to her junior year.
“Reagan has been in the middle of all of our success,” North Catholic coach Eric Solverson said. “Our program at the new North is only six or seven years old, but she's helped it make big strides the past two years.
“The past two years, we've pretty much had a guaranteed win at No. 1 singles. We're going to miss her.”
It wasn't enough for Sommariva to win her matches. She wanted the team to succeed.
“It took the whole team to do what we did,” she said. “It was important to me that we competed as a team, everybody play their hardest.
“It didn't matter how it wound up. I just wanted everybody to play like they meant it. Put your heart into the sport, it will pay off. That's the mind-set we had to have. I feel like I helped push them that way.”
Sommariva was 18-5 overall this season, singles and doubles play combined. She was 33-0 in matches over the past two years that did not involve a Knoch opponent.
“They (Knoch) went on to win the state championship and Laura Greb was one of the best players in the state, so that's pretty good,” Solverson said.
Sommariva was 59-9 in her high school career.
Pylant and Sommariva trailed 4-1 in the third set of their WPIAL third-place match against Sewickley. They staved off three match points against them before rallying to win.
“We just kept fighting,” Sommariva said of the match. “Placing third meant the world to us. We were hungry to get there.”
Belmont Abbey is a Division II school that competes in the Conference Carolinas. Michael Salomon is in his sixth year as the Crusaders' head coach.
He is also one of the main reasons Sommariva opted for that school.
“I didn't want to go far from home at first,” she admitted. “I was checking out a bunch of schools in this area. Then I started wondering what else was out there. What am I missing?
“Belmont Abbey's coach was the difference for me. He always called me, always asked about my family, made me feel like I was part of the team even before I decided to go there.
“I'll miss my family and friends, but I'm excited about getting out of my own private bubble,” she added.
Only two of Belmont Abbey's 14 players were seniors last year, including Morgan Zahnd, who was a first team all-conference player.
“It's a smaller school and Reagan will be very comfortable there,” Solverson said. “She'll definitely figure in as a starter somewhere in their lineup next year.
“She is such a consistent player. She makes few mistakes. Reagan will play against opponents who are bigger, stronger, maybe hit the ball harder ... she'll just outlast them.”
Sommariva is looking forward to playing more matches on outdoor courts. She was ranked No. 17 in Pennsylvania by the USTA last year, “but I have no idea where that stands now,” she said.
“Down there, they play a lot more matches outside,” Sommariva added. “I just want to become a better player. College competition will be a whole new mind-set, another level.”
She plans to major in sports management and marketing. Belmont Abbey is only 10 minutes outside of Charlotte.
“Being that close to the city, there are a lot of (internship) opportunities,” Sommariva said. “I'm looking forward to that as well.”