By Ryan Kaczmarski
The high school girls tennis season starts this week, and the Westshore area has teams that are consistently pushing well into the postseason, with some making it to Columbus on a yearly basis.
The MAGNIFICAT High School team is coming off a 18-5 season in which it finished third in the 2011 state team tournament.
“It was a very close and hard-working squad,” Blue Streaks head coach Chris Johnson said. “I think we overachieved and beat some more talented teams. The desire to win was immense.”
Returning starters are senior Sarah Patrick, junior Emily Witt (27-5 in 2011, and state qualifier) and sophomore Lauren O’Malley (23-5 in 2011, and district qualifier). Seniors Veronica Johnson and Josie Miller are also returning this year after being reserves on last year’s team.
Patrick, Miller and Johnson will serve as the Blue Streaks’ captains this season.
“They will serve as great role models for the younger players and will be great ambassadors for Magnificat,” Johnson said.
Johnson sees matches against Westlake, Hudson, Kenston and Walsh Jesuit as the toughest local competition. The Blue Streaks will also play defending Division II state champion Lexington High School and defending Division I state champion Dublin Jerome High School.
“Our singles players should be our strength, but overall, our team’s mental strength and knowledge of strategy should give us an edge,” Johnson said. “We will also be one of the best-conditioned teams in the area, as all players participated in some type of strength and conditioning program.”
The team goals are to make it to the State Team Final four, and to qualify at least two individuals to the OHSAA state tournament.
Magnificat starts play Friday at the Rocky River Invitational.
The WESTLAKE High School team has been on a run of unprecedented success, going 18-2 overall and 7-0 in the Southwestern Conference in 2011, on the way to its third-consecutive SWC championship. The returning letter winners are Lauren Golick (captain, 2011 state qualifier), Julia Dunbar (captain, 2011 state qualifier), Melissa Djohan and Paavani Reddy. The players to watch this year are Lyndsey Golick, Amanda Jaros, Erin Tanker and Marrisa Li.
“The Lady Demons will have nice depth to their lineup this season,” Demons head coach Ralph Dunbar said. “We have good synergy to the team. It’s key to have (that) if you want to compete as a team.”
The Demons start the season today against Olmsted Falls.
The NORTH OLMSTED team will return letter winners Mandy Minch, Rachel Moell and Mina Diamntis.
“As a team, we have a very positive attitude,” Eagles head coach Eric Hodge said. “We are young, with a majority of my players coming from ninth and 10th grades.
Several of the freshmen newcomers are looking to be starting varsity players. The Eagles start the season today at Amherst.
The FAIRVIEW High School team plays in the NEOTA independent league (Division E), and finished in second-place in 2011.
“We had a great squad last year with lots of varsity experience,” Warriors head coach Eric Korey said. “We lost five starters, including our first and second singles and our first doubles (teams).”
The two returning letter winners are senior captains Melody Chen and Michelle Hislop.
“Our team is full of high-quality and high-character girls, who work hard and are good teammates,” Korey said. “We are (now) a young team without much varsity experience. We are still developing our games.”
The Warriors kick off the season tomorrow at Parma High School.
The ROCKY RIVER team went 14-6 last year, finishing in third-place in the West Shore Conference.
According to the Pirates’ head coach Ben Purdy, 2011 was a rebuilding year and they will be stronger this year.
Returning letter winners are senior Jenna Inks and juniors Isabel Quinones, Alex Riegelsberger and Adrienne Copa. Other key players are seniors Amy Lam and Maddie Fitzsimmons; sophomore Megan Schulte and freshman Lucy Grierson.
“There is a great core of seniors, who are leading the team,” Purdy said.
Other seniors on this year’s team are Lene Query, Lauren Simon, Emma Janosik, Chaffy Assad, Mina Cheriki, Rachel Chen, Cassidy Pescatrice, Sarah Lucas, Sierra Burleson and Nina Paulic.
“Along with the other seniors listed above, these girls deserve their names in print,” Purdy said. “Most of them have put in four years of hard work and are leading the team in play, attitude and work-ethic. I may never see a class like this again in my entire carrer.
“We have incredible depth and an intelligence on the court I’ve rarely seen.”
The Pirates start the season today against North Royalton High School.
The BAY High School team went 12-8 overall, and 5-1 in the WSC in 2011, which was good enough for second-place in the conference.
The Rockets have eight returning letter winners, including Katie Quillin and Rannie Dong.
“Katie should be one of the three premier singles players in the conference and the only player in the conference to go to state last year,” Rockets head coach Dave Peters said. “Senior co-captains Dong and Maranda Nuendorf should round out the singles lineup behind Quillin. Both are experienced players.”
Bay opens the season today at Orange High School.
OLMSTED FALLS High School did not respond in time for this article.