By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Championships are what make all the work worthwhile.
Going into a season with a realistic shot at winning won, coupled with a small bit of success can bring a sense of excitement to each and every match as well as add a layer of pressure to every player on a team, as well as its coaches.
At least three area tennis coaches have a positive outlook on what their teams can accomplish in 2013.
Here’s a look at what a few of those teams can expect this fall.
The Eagles are certainly no strangers to winning or high expectations. But after losing seven lettermen to graduation from the 2012 team, inexperience could be an issue.
“We only return three letterman from last year’s 19-2 PAC championship team. Our strength will be our singles anchored by seniors Alyx Lynham and Martina Drugovich. But we need to gain some quick experience at doubles.”
Senior Beth Steele is the only other returning letterman on coach Scott Torok’s squad.
Senior Dani Zapp, juniors Kayla Huff, Veronica Ruggieri and Katie Shaw, sophomores Sydney VanHoy and Diedra Yan and freshmen Amy Varckette, Laken Anderson and Emily Forman are all battling to get on the court.
The reigning Premier Athletic Conference champions are looking for another title, but will have to fight off some stiff competition.
“We hope we still have enough to win the conference,” Torook said. “But Lakeside, Chardon and Madison will be right there. It should be an interesting season. We need some inexperienced players to step up.”
Coach Lou Murphy’s Falcons always have a way of putting themselves right in the thick of the All-American Conference race.
For that to happen again this year, the Falcons will have to soak everything thei coach teaches them and be able to use.
“When players are coachable and they adopt what you teach to a part of their own gameplan, good things happen,” Murphy said.
Seniors Sarah Brook and Ashley Kotano, junior Makala Fioritto and sphomores Morgan Brown and Arden Bishop are the Falcons’ returning letterwinners.
Murphy is blessed with good depth.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Arianna Focht, juniors Emily Emerson, Casey Hall, Alesia Lampert and Ellen Eumsky, sophomores Kim Price and Angelina Forman and freshmen Erin Butcher, Katrina Ployz, Lillian Wolf, Brooke Basen, JerLynn Evans and Abby Caskey.
The Falcons can put themselves in position to compete for tha AAC title.
“I hope to be competing for the league championship once again,” Murphy said. “We seem to always be right there in it because the girls work hard and they are determined.”
A few Dragons are taking their sport very seriously and it seems to be contagious.
“Four of my girls have been taking private lessons or group lessons or both since the first of the year. Two of them have been playing competitively all summer. They are all seniors and two know that they plan on being successful. I believe in them! This attitude, work ethic, and belief will be, is, a springboard for the rest of the team.”
It helps that they are also experienced as coach Bob Walters lost just one letterwinner off last year’s team — and she was a foreign-exchange student.
Back as letterwinners are seniors Katie Allen, Leah Brady, Sarah George, Kayla Johnston and Courtney Smith and junior Ashley Gran.
Juniors Gabby Novak, Megan Schiff and Sophia Tannish and freshmen Jesse Hanhilammi and Reis Kitinoja fill out the team.
Geneva remains a favorite for the PAC title, but will have a few teams hot on its heels.
“Geneva probably will be the favorite,” Walters said “In spite of the fact that they lost their second singles, first double, and their second double. They always seem to be able to reload.
“Chardon defeated us twice last year. They still have their first singles, third singles, and first doubles coming back. Do not count us out!”
The following schools did not return information sheets sent to them in July:
Conneaut, Edgewood, Madison and Perry.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula. Reach him at email@example.com.