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Woodridge girls tennis team looking to continue winning ways

10/4/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

PENINSULA — First-year Woodridge High School girls tennis head coach Shannon McHale said her team already has accomplished one of its major goals this season.

“We achieved our goal from last year, which was to improve our team standing in the PTC [Portage Trail Conference],” she said. “We finished in fourth place last year, and this year we had a third-place finish. We are planning to be very competitive in sectionals this year and make it to districts.”

Woodridge, which is 7-5 in PTC play this year and has an overall record of 8-5, is already ahead of last year’s win totals.

“This team has had continuous improvement throughout this season. They have applied what they have learned from one match to the next, and have become a well-rounded team,” McHale said. “We have really come together as a supportive team. We have focused on the fundamentals of tennis, movement and strategic placement. We have worked on not only being physically sound, but mentally tough as well.”

Last season, the team finished 7-9 overall and 6-6 in the PTC.

“The team came in fourth in the PTC, and Alex LoPrinzi made it to the quarter finals at sectionals,” the coach said.

According to McHale, this year’s team had to make up for the loss of some experienced players.

“We are a ‘young’ team in the respect of having lost five varsity starters from last year’s team,” she said. “We have five wonderful ladies that have worked hard and have proven that they deserve a varsity position alongside the two varsity starters from last year.”

LoPrinzi returned as the team’s only senior this year.

“She is the captain of the tennis team for the second year,” McHale said. “She won second place at the PTC and was awarded the first-team player trophy. Her season record this year is 13-3. She is an A student and a member of the National Honor Society … She is kind, courteous and treats everyone with respect. She is a genuine leader on and off the court.”

One key for the team’s success this year, McHale said, is that the team has received valuable contributions from the junior class.

“Jen Pung, second singles, has had an impressive year with a record of 11-5 and a third-place finish in third singles at our PTC. She has really focused on improving her overall game and net skills. Allie Vanaman, third singles, has had an amazing year with a record of 8-8 and a fourth-place finish in third singles at our PTC. This is Allie’s first year as a varsity player and as a singles player. She has shown a tremendous amount of improvement and has worked hard both on and off seasons,” the coach said. “Cierra Simmons and Julie Brazis, first doubles, have worked hard this year and had a fourth-place finish at our PTC. This is their first year as varsity starters and we have seen them improve throughout the season.”

In addition, McHale said, sophomores Holly Snyder and Kate Downs, Woodridge’s second doubles team, have “really focused on their game this year.”

“They had an impressive third-place finish in second doubles at our PTC,” the coach stated. “This is their first year playing varsity and only the second year playing tennis.”

McHale also cited freshman Allison Pinta as someone who has “really surprised” the team with her play this year.

“This is her first year playing tennis, and we have seen improvement throughout the season,” the coach said. “She is very determined and focused. She has an amazing forehand, and she is able to create a tremendous amount of power off her groundstrokes.”

McHale was an assistant coach for the team before taking over as the head coach. Her assistant coach is Donna Jo Reynolds, and the team’s volunteer coach is Henry Kwee.

“I have enjoyed coaching these fine young women and look forward to another great season,” McHale stated. “We have many strengths. The ladies are very focused and determined this year. They are very supportive of each other, and they have a great sense of school pride and good sportsmanship.”

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