Firestone girls tennis team planning comeback season
WEST AKRON — The Firestone girls tennis team suffered through a tough 2011 season, but head coach Craig Sampsell said that experience should prove beneficial this season.
“We didn’t win a match last year, which made for a long season, but the girls never lost their motivation or got down on themselves because they saw improvement throughout the season,” he said. “As a team, we are great at pulling together and supporting one another. The winless season last year really had a positive effect on everyone in that a strong bond was formed amongst the players. What I would like to see now is for the girls to focus on their individual play and become stronger at stepping up and realize that although we are a team, tennis, for the most part, is an individual sport. The team only gets better if the individuals do.”
According to Sampsell, the team is split this year between new players and returning veterans.
“We have about 25 players this season and about half of those are first-time players,” he said. “We have a lot of experience in our top seven players returning this year. I’m expecting each one of them to be a standout player.”
One of the team’s leaders will be senior Morgan Schroeder.
“She is an amazing young lady,” the coach said. “She is a co-captain and a great organizer, motivator, athlete and an even better student.”
In addition, Sampsell said, the Firestone girls tennis team will feature several players to watch this year.
“I know that Isabella Sabatina had a slow start to last season and I think it got to her. I expect to see her come out strong in our first match,” he stated. “Additionally, Christina Aronhalt, Casey Miller, Gretchen Shisler and Isabelle Curlee all have something to prove this year.”
The 2012 season for the team will get under way Aug. 20 at Barberton High School. Sampsell said his team is expecting to play well this year.
“We have our eyes set on being the No. 1 tennis team in the district,” he said. “A .500 season would be great and is definitely doable. However, our main goal is to be the No. 1 team in the APS [Akron Public Schools].”
The coach said he believes his players have what it takes to reach the next level this season.
“This year’s strength lies in the returning players and captains who have taken the initiative to run their own practices and get the new girls out playing and learning the game before the season starts,” he said. “Practice starts Aug. 6, but the girls have already begun playing together about three days a week at the courts off of Shatto. There are only two courts there, but they make it work. They have to make it work because there aren’t any tennis facilities large enough for our team near the school. It’s kind of a shame really that the only team to send a player to states in the last 10 years doesn’t have ‘home courts.’”
Sampsell said he hopes to see that change sometime in the near future.
“I would love to see the city spend some money on the west side for tennis courts,” he said. “Ellet and Firestone Park have both benefited from a lot of taxpayer money to refurbish courts. I’m just wondering when it will be our turn.”
Sampsell has been coaching at Firestone for more than a decade.
“I started as the junior varsity coach for boys and now I’m head coach for both boys and girls,” he said. “Becca Aronhalt is our returning [junior varsity] coach. Having played at Firestone, she is a great motivator for the girls.”
More Sports News
Calendar of Events
- ZOSO with Joe Vitale Jr. Band - 5/24/2013
- Evil Ways with The Juke Hounds - 5/24/2013
- Voices in the Valley - 5/24/2013
- Who’s Bad? The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute - 5/24/2013
- Ballroom Nights - 5/24/2013