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Coach sees improvement in young Gateway tennis team

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Gary Bills | The Times Express
Gateway freshman singles players Aishwarya Raj keeps her eye on the ball during a match against Plum on Sept. 10, 2012, at Gateway High School.
Top high school sports
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:29 p.m.

The lineup for the Gateway varsity tennis team is young and filled with players in their first year of varsity experience.

Senior Gabby LaMarca was the lone holdover from the 2011 Gators varsity squad.

Head coach Rochelle Seilhamer said she has seen improvement from the whole team, including the new varsity starters.

“A lot of them are sophomores, so when they are juniors and seniors, they should be on top of their games,” Seilhamer said.

“I've seen immense improvement from the girls. They will stay after practice and work on things.

“They are dedicated to getting better. We've also talked about conditioning and getting stronger. It's a learning experience in that way, too.”

Gateway was 3-10 in Section 3-AAA after Monday's 5-0 loss to Shady Side Academy, and the section finale at Plum was slated for Wednesday.

The match with the Mustangs was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.

“We have a young team. Most of us are in our first year on varsity, I feel we've improved,” sophomore doubles player Bridget Jacob said.

“I feel we can keep getting better, and we have time.”

Jacob and three other underclassmen — junior Kristen Ku, sophomore Kaylee Steimer and freshman Aishwarya Raj — were in the mix last week at the Section 3-AAA doubles tournament at the Alpha Tennis and Fitness Center in Harmar.

Raj and Ku — Gateway's No. 2 and No. 3 singles players, respectively — ran into a buzz saw in the first round and lost, 10-0, to Shaler's Kristen Rost and Kristel Chatellier.

The first- and second-round matches were contested in a pro-set format.

The team who was first to win 10 games with a two-game margin advanced to the next round.

“Every match has been a great experience for us, whether they've been wins or losses,” Ku said.

Jacob and Steimer, who have played together this season at No. 1 doubles, faced Plum's Danielle Davido and Ashley Alpino in the first round and suffered a 10-3 loss.

The Gators' underclassmen said they are looking forward to future matches and that Seilhamer has been a big part in their development.

“She can be very encouraging, and she also gives us good (constructive) criticism when we need it,” Raj said.

“She really supports us and helps us get better,” Steimer said. “She keeps our spirits high.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at

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