Clearfield tennis looks to fill holes
Thursday, August 21, 2008
By Jaclyn Yingling Sports Editor
HYDE - After losing three of its singles players, including District 9 champion Courtney Kauch, the Clearfield girls tennis team has some questions this season.
One of those questions is how to replace Kauch at the number one singles spot. With just six letterwinners returning, and only two with real singles experience, it remains to be seen how the Lady Bisons will fare.
"I counted on Courtney to win the number one singles match, and I knew most of the time that she and someone else would win the doubles match," said Clearfield head coach Mike Sciabica. "Counting on somebody to get two of the five points you need to win and then losing them, you start to think, ‘How can we make up for that.'
"That's why in tennis if you lose a dominant number one tennis player, it can be a problem."
Both Jenny Miller and Emily Von Gunden played singles last season, and will be relied on heavily this season to contribute at the top of the lineup.
"When you lose a number one that you relied on to win all the time, that creates a hole you might not be able to fill," Sciabica said. "And, the girls that played fourth and fifth singles are gone, and they did a decent job there. As it turns out, we really only have two people who really played much singles last year, and that would be Jenny and Emily.
"That's the part that worries me. We had people who played last year, but we have very little experience in terms of playing singles matches. I don't know if our depth will enable us to make up for the fact that we lost some people who knew how to play singles and knew how to win there."
The Lady Bisons also return letterwinners in seniors Julie Colesar and Kayla White, as well as juniors Angela Moore and Madison Sopic.
Junior Kristen McKenzie is back this season, while senior Heather Learish and five sophomores - Hillary Buck, Suzanne Colesar, Jenna Cowder, Sierra Grice and Tori Hallstrom - are newcomers to the team.
"It's good to have five sophomores," Sciabica said. "It would be nice to have some freshmen, but unfortunately we don't. I'm just hoping they pick things up quickly, because when you first come out as a sophomore you have to learn fast."
Some of the newcomers will get their chance to make their mark early since the Lady Bisons will need to fill out their lineup.
Right now, only two players have guaranteed spots - Miller and Von Gunden.
"We have a little bit of an idea of what we are going to do," Sciabica said of the lineup. "For the first couple of matches Jenny Miller will play number one, while Emily will play number two. That could change during the course of the year, but I would expect to keep those two at the top of the lineup throughout the season. After that, things get more cloudy.
"Some of the newcomers could end up playing as a doubles player or even conceivably later on taking a singles spot. It's a given that Jenny and Emily will be at the top, and we will just have to see after that."
So far, Sciabica is pleased with the group, as well as Miller and Von Gunden, who have been working on their game in the offseason.
"I really like these girls," he said. "They are a good group. They aren't troublemakers and they work hard.
"I think both Jenny and Emily have improved too. And, we do need somebody to step up to the top of the lineup. Both of them have played in the offseason, so that helps."
With so many questions, Sciabica has one goal for his team - improvement.
"So many times I more than anything want to be able to look back in the later stages of the season and realize that we are better than we were when the season started. Improvement during the course of the season is definitely a factor."
Clearfield opens its season on Monday at Punxsutawney.
*Julie Colesar, Heather Learish, *Emily Von Gunden, *Kayla White.
Kristen McKenzie, *Jenny Miller, *Angela Moore, *Madison Sopic.
Hillary Buck, Suzanna Colesar, Jenna Cowder, Sierra Grice, Tori Hallstrom.
*Denotes returning letterwinner.
25-at Punxsutawney; 26-Johnsonburg; 28-at Elk County Catholic.
2-DuBois; 4-Bradford; 8-at Brockway; 9-St. Marys; 11-Punxsutawney; 16-at Johnsonburg; 18-Elk County Catholic; 23-at DuBois; 25-at Bradford; 30-at District 9 Singles Tournament, TBA.
2-Brockway; 7-at District 9 Doubles Tournament, TBA: 9-at St. Marys.
All matches begin at 3:30 p.m.