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Decatur tennis teams stacked with veterans

(March 22, 2013) Ten of the 12 girls on Stephen Decatur tennis Coach Jamie Greenwood’s roster competed in 2012.

Freshmen Mallory Rolleston and Calais Rodriguez, who will play doubles, are the only new players joining the Lady Seahawks’ squad.

Greenwood, now in his fifth season as coach, said the 2013 team is solid and has experience.

“Hopefully, that bodes well for the season. Ten played last year and they all saw match time,” he said. “All the girls get along, which is a big key to being successful. We have the ability to win our matches, win the [South] conference and compete for a Bayside title, but it’s about dedication and focus.”

Last year, the Seahawks finished 10-6 and were led by Madison Pope and Emmalee Murrell. Greenwood said the two will battle it out each week to see who will play in the Nos. 1 and 2 singles spots.

“Those two are both pretty solid,” he said. “They’re my senior leaders.”

Seniors Tori Whigham, Libby Withers and Lexi Ashton will most likely play in the third, forth and fifth single positions, respectively.

“The other seven girls, it’s a toss-up if they’ll be playing singles or doubles. Everybody’s pretty equal,” Greenwood said. They include veterans, juniors Ashley DePaul, twins Charlotte and Valerie Petsche, Annie James and sophomore Delaney Iacona.

Greenwood will look to the five seniors for leadership.

“They all bring something. Each one has a different attribute,” he said.

The weather hasn’t cooperated much for spring sports, but when the girls have been on the court, Greenwood said he has seen some good things.

Pope, a four-year varsity player, agreed.

“Everybody’s been playing a lot in the off-season so I think it should be a good year,” she said.

Boys’ Coach Steve Berquist welcomes back seven veterans and four newcomers. Leading the 11-player roster in the No. 1 spot is senior Tim VanVonno, a two-year player. VanVonno competed at No. 4 singles last year, when the team went 13-3, and has moved up to the top position for 2013.

“I worked hard in the off-season to improve my serve and ground strokes and I feel like I’m pretty well prepared,” he said. “I’m going to lead alongside [senior] Joe Iacona, the other captain, to make sure the team is improving as a whole every day.”

Berquist said Iacona, senior Jon Hastings and junior John Niedfeldt will battle for the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 positions in the line-up.

Senior Logan Simpson and juniors Chase Eslin and Zach Elmer also return. Senior Steve Redner, junior Tyler Angelo and freshmen Logan Romberger and Christian Beres are new to the squad.

“I think we should be able to compete with everyone on our schedule. We have five seniors so we’re a senior-heavy team,” the fifth-year coach said. “We don’t have one star player like we traditionally have. Everyone’s more evenly matched this year.”

Berquist said he is pleased with the Seahawks’ performance during preseason, which got under way March 1.

“The kids who played last year have improved. They put in time in the off-season, which is commendable,” he said. “We have a 14-game schedule and I’d like to get 10 wins. We play Parkside, Bennett and Worcester Prep twice, which are six of our toughest matches. We just need to take one step at a time.”

Last year, the Seahawks finished 10-6 and were led by Madison Pope and Emmalee Murrell. Greenwood said the two will battle it out each week to see who will play in the Nos. 1 and 2 singles spots.

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