Plum tennis battling cold weather early on
Old Man Winter's triumphant return to Western Pennsylvania stalled early season court time for Plum boys tennis.
With snow, below average temperatures and no place to practice indoors, Plum has only a handful of preseason practices under its belt.
New Plum coach Vince Romito said the weather woes also forced them to cancel scrimmages against Springdale and Kiski Area.
“We were supposed to play (last Wednesday) and the weather was bad, it was bad the day before and (last Thursday) it was 19 degrees,” Romito said. “Sometimes I wonder if spring sports start too early, but it's usually better than this at this time of year.”
Romito, who took over for Aaron Wilf, who resigned after one season, is in his second stint with Plum. He coached the team a decade ago and is a longtime instructor and tournament director in the local area. Romito also coached the Plum girls team in the fall.
Though it has been hard to get a baseline on the team in their short time together, Romito has some returning players, including junior Colin Lewis. After playing second singles a year ago, Lewis is expected to play as the top singles player this spring with the graduation of Matt Bohinski. Lewis' sister, Sommer, plays on the girls team.
JJ Jenkins and Josh Boland will be the top doubles team this year. Other players who Romito called “up and coming” are Vincenzo Tavella and Max Lu. Tavella could slot in at second singles.
“To me the kids seem really upbeat,” Romito said. “We have a couple of players, who I think are going to be really good. We'll see after we play a couple of matches, and if they lose a match we'll see where the confidence level is. I want to see how they do against the better teams.”
One of the main through lines of Romito's message to his team is the ability to be consistent. Romito considers consistency as the most important aspect to tennis.
“Some of the younger kids want to hit the ball too hard because they want to blow it by people,” Romito said. “Consistency is important, especially in doubles. They really don't have to hit the ball too hard. They just have to get it in and be smart about the way they play.
“In singles you have to just keep the ball deeper. From the serve to groundstrokes, everything has to be consistent. During practice if I see were not getting our serves in a lot, we're going to practice that. It's just like any other sport, you have to practice.”
Plum plays in Section 3-AAA with perennial strong programs Shady Side Academy and Fox Chapel.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.