Ghigiarelli Qualifies for National U16 Tennis Team

Karissa Ghigiarelli is working on her game here at Valley Tennis in Shavertown.

"I have a big forehand, an aggressive baseliner," Ghigiarelli said."My touch and my drop shots and definitely my slice game. It throws a lot of girls off because not many people do it."

Especially not a 14-year-old, but the Scranton-native is swinging her way into the national tennis spotlight. Just ask her coach, Todd Kane.

"She's got a live arm," Kane said. "She's 5'4", 115 lbs. soaking wet and yet she hits the ball almost like a pro level now."

She's certainly come a long way since she first picked up a racket at five years old. After wowing at level three nationals, Ghigiarelli just qualified for the Middle States Under 16 national team.

"It's been definitely a goal of mine for the past few years to go to this," Ghigiarelli said. "I was just so excited that I made it this year."

She's playing up. There's a 14 and under team. She qualified for the 16 and under. This is beyond impressive.

"It's been at least ten years since anyone from northeastern Pennsylvania has qualified for the nationals," Tim Haus of the Valley Tennis and the Birchwood Tennis Club said. "This is a very, very special achievement and accomplishment and she's done it at age 14, playing in the 16 and under, which makes it even more difficult."

"The older kids are stronger. They're bigger," Ghigiarelli explained. "They have more experience. So naturally, I get a better experience playing them."

Ghigiarelli commits as hard as she hits. She went to cyber school so she could focus on the tennis court full time, driving to Allentown daily and that dedication has paid off."

"I've worked really hard over the last summer and the school year," Ghigiarelli said. "I was really excited."

"I saw her every day, three to five hours a day and she really worked hard to get to this level," Kane added.

A level Ghigiarelli says is only the beginning.

"My goal is not to be a really good 14 and under player," Ghigiarelli explained. "I want to play tennis for the rest of my life and try to be a professional tennis player."

"My goal for her is you shoot for the stars and if you only get to the moon, that's still pretty cool," Kane said. "She wants to be a professional tennis player and we're going to do whatever we can to get her there."

The next step? Nationals in Texas later this month.