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Experience hikes Connellsville's tennis prospects

| Friday, March 8, 2013, 1:11 a.m.
Senior Eric Trump hopes to help the Connellsville boys tennis team improve this season. (Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier)

The Connellsville boys tennis team has struggled to find much success in recent seasons, but there is optimism surrounding the Falcons as they prepare for the 2013 season.

Coach William Ricks has eight returning lettermen from last year's team and is hopeful that positive steps will be made as the program tries to climb back toward contender status in Section 1-AAA.

“I'm hoping that we can be .500 and we want to be better than what we were last year,” Ricks said. “It's up to them.”

In 2012, the Falcons managed just two section wins. Plus, Connellsville has lost No. 1 singles player Jeff Medvec to graduation. However, experience could be a key asset.

“I'll spend time with the freshmen and sophomores because our older guys are able to take care of themselves,” Ricks said.

Seniors James Manges, Eric Trump and Timothy Zeigler, juniors Lawrence Becker, Tristan Kozel, Tyler McFadden and Jaycob Miller, and sophomore Orville Strauser are returning lettermen.

After playing No. 2 singles last year, Manges is expected to move into the No. 1 spot.

“He has decent strokes and I can talk to him and help him set the pace,” Ricks said of Manges.

Manges said the team is definitely ready to work to get the program headed in the right direction.

“We're striving for a winning season,” Manges said. “We'll do whatever we can (to get it). I'm very excited about this season. I think the team will be pretty good now that we know what we are doing.”

Joining Manges in the starting lineup likely will be Trump at No. 2 singles. Either Kozel or McFadden will round out the singles roster. McFadden, Kozel, Becker, Miller, Zeigler and Strauser likely will form the doubles combinations, along with freshman Ethan McIntosh.

Ricks acknowledged he will do everything he can to help his athletes improve this season. However, he also pointed out that ultimately, the job of getting better falls on the player.

“I hope they keep their season together and do what they have to do,” Ricks said. “They have to play relaxed and do what they are supposed to do. It has to come out of the player.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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