There will be one major new challenge for the Fitch girls tennis team when it takes to the court this season.
That challenge will come in the form of a new conference. Fitch will be playing its first season in the All American Conference where the competition is rugged to say the least. Head coach Steve Ward knows exactly who the boss of the All American is and what needs to be done to take that team down.
“Canfield rules the court,” wrote Ward in an email. “(Canfield) has a few state-ranked players so our goal is to go after them with fierce determination. We want to set an immediate tone. We have been working to instill a type of attitude in these girls that gives them confidence on the court against any opponent.”
Canfield isn’t the only team in the conference who can send super sluggers to the court. Coach Ward has his own group of girls who posses star quality and excel in many different areas of the game. Leading the Lady Falcons is a pair of returning letterwinners. Senior Nikki Wenick is the main partner in Fitch’s doubles division and fellow senior Angela Murphy makes up the top of the singles class. Ward thinks both young ladies are huge assets in Fitch’s quest to quiet Canfield.
“It is really a great opportunity to have a senior in each match type,” said Ward. “(Nikki and Angela) are two of the nicest and competitive athletes I’ve had the pleasure to coach. They really stepped up and turned this group into a team. I cannot say enough about their leadership.”
In order for Wenick to succeed in doubles play she needs a dependable partner. The senior will have one in junior Emily Wirtz. Although Wenick, Murphy and Wirtz form a tremendous trio for Ward to call on, tennis is a game predicated on practice and competition so it is not out of the question that a less heralded Falcon rises up to corral countless court time.
“In practice, match play decides who will compete in the next match and the rest of our singles players want the top spot,” explained Ward.
Stepping up this year to challenge for singles spots will be juniors Sarah Kupas and Emily Fisher and sophomore Ashley Hanuschek. Rounding out the doubles positions will be junior Breanna Barto and sophomore Katie Klepec. Coach Ward can’t wait to see which of these girls gather the most momentum in 2011.
“It will be interesting to see who comes out the winner in match play,” Ward said. “Each one of these girls has their own strengths and weaknesses to their games and they will be competing for a total of three spots on the varsity.”
Fitch’s fine roster doesn’t end in the varsity ranks either. If any of the above mentioned strikers strike out this season, the Falcons have some super athletes in reserve.
“These varsity players better watch out for the other players who want to earn varsity positions,” Ward warned.
Two juniors, Mindy McMullen and Julia Jorge will be joined by a pair of sophomores, Latrice Nelson and Mariah Cuevas in the varsity-in-waiting ranks. Ward also has a trio of freshmen who will challenge for matches this year in Capri Corbin, Alexis Jorge and Kayli Senedak.
“All of these girls have been getting better and better,” said the coach.
The Fitch tennis team must all get better if it is to fend off the rest of the AAC and cut down Canfield. Fitch’s first showdown with the Lady Cardinals is scheduled for Sept. 12. The season opener was set for Aug. 15 when the Falcons flew to Lakeview.