Inexperience dots the roster of Gateway varsity tennis team
Senior Gabby LaMarca returns for her fourth year as a starter on the Gateway varsity girls tennis team.
She played at No. 1 singles last year and helped bring the Gators to within one match of a trip to the WPIAL playoffs.
LaMarca will be captain of a markedly different team in 2012, as she is the only returning starter. Five of the seven varsity players from last year moved on because of graduation.
Another starter from last year decided not to play this season.
"Gabby has the potential to do good things this season," Gateway head coach Rochelle Seilhamer said.
Seilhamer said LaMarca is trying to work through a thigh injury that limits her ability to run and move side to side.
"It's been tough for her with the injury," Seilhamer said. "She has to battle through it, and I'm trying to instill that in her. She knows how important it is to be No. 1 (singles) and be the captain of the team."
The varsity team also is made up of junior Kristen Ku; sophomores Bridget Jacob, Christie Doege, Kaylee Steimer and Rachel Marrow; and freshmen Shawna Kroning.
Ku and the four sophomores played on the JV team last year.
The seven underclassmen have been competing for the No. 2 and 3 singles positions and both doubles teams.
"I believe they will improve," Seilhamer said. "They have to learn how to fight, and they are starting to understand the need to buckle down in tough situations they might face this season. It's a team effort, and everyone has to put forth their best effort. It's important they don't give up."
Gateway scrimmaged Penn-Trafford on Monday, and the Warriors brought 18 players to the match. The Gators players competed in first-to-eight-games matches, and faced two different opponents.
The structure of the scrimmage, Seilhamer said, allowed her players to face a couple of different playing styles.
"It's a good bunch of girls," Seilhamer said. "There will be growing pains, but they want to get better, and they are showing that improvement already. They are staying after practice and putting in some extra work."
Gateway opens Section 3-AAA play Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Penn Hills on the courts at Boyce Park.