TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Burrell girls tennis off to quick start

Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Jessica Linza returns a shot during tennis practice at Burrell High School on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Stephen Catanese
Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, 12:16 a.m.
 

With seniors Jessica Linza and Emily Feroce its only returning starters, the Burrell girls tennis team had five roster spots to fill from graduation losses.

The mix the Buccaneers relied on to fill the holes included some unique ingredients.

Here is the recipe: Two spots were filled by returning upperclassmen Zoe Zentner and Natalie Artman, one by freshman Emma Hough, another by junior basketball standout Jaila Manga, and the final spot by junior Amanda Linden, one of three volleyball players added to this year's roster.

Despite its uncommon makeup, Burrell has enjoyed a fast start. The Bucs were undefeated until losing on Thursday, 4-1, to Section 4-AA contender Indiana.

Prior to the defeat, the Bucs ran up a record of 6-0 and none of its players had dropped a set in section play.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Burrell coach Jeri Tutolo said. “There's still a lot for them to learn, but they're picking up the game now.”

The Bucs are led by the technique-driven Linza, who assumed the No. 1 singles spot after excelling at doubles last season.

“Jessica has always been good,” Tutolo said. “She has a good shot and she hits hard. She can't way more than 90 pounds, I swear, but she always hits hard.”

Linza, who took lessons to hone her game over the summer, has found the injection of new talent into the roster refreshing. She feels the cohesiveness of team tennis has helped players adapt quickly.

“There's never cliques, there's never hostility,” she said. “Everybody's rooting for everyone. In other sports, girls can be nasty, rude. Tennis is one where you can expect to be who you are.”

And she feels that environment helped players such as Manga and Linden develop into valuable contributors.

“Not that I think anything less of the girls this year than last year, but some of them just picked up a racket this year, and you're like, ‘They won? Wow, that's awesome,' ” she said.

Feroce, who plays No. 2 singles, has been equally impressed.

“They have really good attitudes and they're very athletic, so that helps (make up for inexperience),” she said.

Linza and Feroce have found joy in watching their new teammates — who admittedly carried lower expectations than last year's — blossom.

“When these girls came in, I wasn't sure if they were going to take it that seriously. You know, they love their volleyball. This isn't their sport. Are they going to take it seriously?” Linza said. “But they came in and took it very seriously. ...It's amazing to watch them grow and get better.”

Stephen Catanese is a freelance writer.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
  2. Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
  3. Memories of Steelers fan from Beaver Falls go beyond simple recall
  4. Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
  5. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  6. Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
  7. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  8. Gorman: Women breaking coaching barriers
  9. Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
  10. Traded after Stanley Cup, Saad not alone in being dealt after title
  11. Gameday: Pirates at Reds, July 31, 2015