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Flexibility key for this year’s Green girls tennis players

8/29/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GREEN — According to head coach Sue Ciccolini, the Green High School girls tennis team is going into each match this season with a couple of goals in mind.

“First of all, we will all strive to play our best and give it our all each and every match and practice,” she said. “Secondly, I have told the girls that I want them to learn something from each match and take away a new technique or strategy to use for the next match.”

Last year, Green finished 11-7 overall and 5-2 in the Suburban League.

“After the tournament, we ended up second place overall in the Suburban League,” Ciccolini said. “We had one district qualifier, Danielle Beyes.”

However, the coach said, this year will be “a challenging season” for the team.

“Two of our varsity players from last year are injured and out for the entire season,” she said. “Danielle Beyes, our No. 1 singles player, has shoulder injuries, and doubles player Rachel Bindreiter is out with a torn ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]. This means that each girl this year is moving up a spot in the lineup and facing tougher players and matches.”

One advantage the team does have, Ciccolini said, is that the players were able to prepare for the season knowing about the injuries in advance.

“We have known this was the case all summer and have been practicing extra hard,” she said. “Most of the girls on the team attended the conditioning program at the high school that was offered, and it really made a difference for them starting out with our on-court conditioning program in July.”

One of the team’s buzz words this season will be flexibility, Ciccolini said.

“This year, we need to learn to be flexible and play both singles and doubles,” she stated. “Our motto is ‘One match at a time.’ I will analyze the upcoming match and possibly change up the lineup depending on the other team’s weaknesses. A No. 3 singles player may be playing No. 2 doubles the next day. We have to do whatever it takes to get three winning courts, without stacking, of course.”

The strength of this year’s team, the coach noted, will be the three veteran senior players, led by Kristen Starkey, who is playing first singles.

“Kristen is having to face the toughest players this year, but she is up for the challenge and is doing very well,” Ciccolini said. “Kristen is an all-around solid player. She excels at both singles and doubles. She has great strokes and likes to finish her points at the net. She is also co-captain and is doing a great job at leading the team and creating bonding experiences within the team.”

Also a co-captain, senior Jenna Jamil is playing second singles this season.

“Jenna has a consistent game and will wear down her opponent every time,” the coach said. “She has played some first doubles for us and is now at singles, where I think she is more comfortable.”

Another team leader, Ciccolini said, is senior Addie Hujar, who is playing first doubles.

“Addie brings a lot of experience to the doubles court,” she said. “She is very competitive and a smart player. Her deep crosscourt groundstrokes help set up her partner.”

Hujar’s partner on the first doubles team is senior Lexi Marchese.

“Lexi is the surprise for us this year,” the coach said. “Lexi has improved from last year. She also can play either doubles or singles. As of now, I like her at the doubles spot with Addie. Lexi is a lefty and has a lot of unique angles for a doubles game. She is also consistent and a fighter. The two of them work well together and will give us a lot of wins for the team.”

Overall, Ciccolini said, the team has eight seniors.

“Second doubles consists of seniors Rachel Dooley and Kierston Gregory. Rachel and Kierston are doing well as a team. Rachel has a big serve and Kierston is quick at the net. I will continue to work with them on movement and strategy for doubles,” she stated. “Playing third singles will be a rotation between seniors Marissa Kirk and Bianca Kontra. Marissa also has a big serve and hits a nice flat ball, which is hard to return. Bianca is like a rabbit on the court, running down every ball. These spots are not set in stone, and they may also be playing some doubles as well.”

Ciccolini said the 2013 Green girls tennis squad is the “largest team we have ever had.”

“We have 26 total girls on the team. We have decided to create a JV [junior varsity] A team and a JV B team. The B team consists of mainly freshmen that have never played before,” she said. “I have two great assistant coaches who can handle this large group. Coach Jan Hicks is the JV coach. Coach Julie DeLuca is our volunteer assistant coach. Between all of us coaches, we have worked hard all summer teaching the game to the new players and encouraging them to stick with it. This is our 10th year of coaching together. We work well together and hopefully have brought the game of tennis alive in the city of Green. We consistently try to introduce tennis to new players and are still hopeful of getting new tennis courts in the future. We are committed to sharing our love of the game with others.”

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