Norton girls tennis team looking to maintain strong play
NORTON — Last season, the Norton High School girls tennis team finished with a 14-5 overall record and a 10-2 mark in Portage Trail Conference (PTC) play. The team earned titles in both first and second doubles at the conference tournament.
“I can only hope we can improve on last season by working hard and keeping our focus,” said head coach Angie Carretta.
Norton lost five players to graduation after the 2011 season. Carretta said this year’s team also will feature a number of seniors, but the class overall has limited varsity experience.
“We have two returning letter-winners, both seniors, and we have more seniors who will be playing varsity, but they lack the varsity playing experience and time on the court,” she said.
The two seniors who return with extended experience are Donna Kitchens and Jessica Duncan.
“Donna Kitchens, at doubles, was the PTC champ at second doubles 2011,” Carretta said. “Jessica Duncan, who plays doubles or singles, was the PTC champ at first doubles in 2011.”
Looking to make their mark this season will be the team’s other seniors: Alyssa Hunt, singles; Devyn Vence, singles; Maddie Kraus, doubles; and Rachael Destefano, doubles.
Another player Carretta has high hopes for this season is junior Ashlyn Schmitt, who currently is nursing a back injury.
“She has been working on her game and will be playing singles. We are hoping her injury will not keep her from playing,” the coach said. “Hopefully, she will be at full strength when our season begins.”
Leading the underclassmen will be Donna Kitchens’ sister, sophomore Heather Kitchens.
“She will be considered for a varsity doubles position,” the coach said.
According to Carretta, the strength of this season’s squad will be the play of its doubles teams. However, the coach noted her team needs to improve its play in singles matches.
“Singles is where we struggle. We need to concentrate on that,” she said. “Singles is what we need to work on without question.”
Carretta said the team’s players will have a wide open shot to earn a spot this season.
“We lost the whole singles lineup and half of each doubles team, so we will look at new players at every position,” she said. “I want them to surprise themselves and see how good they can be.”
Team tryouts will take place Aug. 6-10.
“I would encourage the girls to work on their game every day and ask a returning letter-winner just how hard they will have to work to make varsity and play matches nearly every day of the week from the second week in August to the first week in October,” she said.
The team’s season will start at home against Ravenna High School Aug. 14.
“We have a tough schedule in the PTC and with our independent matches,” the coach said.
This is Carretta’s sixth season at Norton High School and her 21st season overall as a coach. Her assistant coach is Phil Seenes, who also is the varsity boys coach.
“I would like everyone to know the hard work these young ladies put in,” Carretta said. “They play indoors for six weeks during the winter and are out now working to fine tune their games. More importantly, I would like to thank [Norton High School] and our administration and transportation department for their help and support that helps our season run smoothly, and our Panther Parents for the ball machine and for all they do for our athletes.”
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