Health could be key for Southmoreland tennis team

| Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 2:11 a.m.

Sometimes things just don't go according to plan, and that was the case for the Southmoreland girls tennis team last year.

Injuries sabotaged the team's chances for success. But this year, coach Jim Kessler is hoping a healthy lineup translates to a playoff season for this group of Scotties.

“We've got a lot of kids coming back, so I expect us to be better,” Kessler said. “Our goal is to be in the top three.”

Finishing in the top three in Section 1-AA will get the Scotties into the WPIAL playoffs, but it won't be an easy task, especially considering the anticipated strength of some of the teams, including rivals Greensburg Central Catholic and Mt. Pleasant.

Still, the hope is that if Southmoreland can avoid the injury bug, it could be a team to beat. Last year, the Scotties struggled to a 5-7 record in the section, but they were dealing with injuries to players at first and third singles, as well as second doubles.

“We had a lot of injuries,” Kessler said.

A healthy lineup could go a long way toward the Scotties achieving their goals.

Look for senior Ashley Belzer to hold down the first singles position.

Belzer likes the look of this year's team.

“There is a lot of veterans on the team, and we are capable of making the playoffs this year,” Belzer said. “We just have to work hard as a team.”

Attitude is another aspect of this year's Scotties team that Belzer sees as a huge positive.

“You really have to care,” Belzer said. “Your heart has to be in it, and a lot of these girls have the heart to be the best.”

Early in the year, Belzer will be joined in the singles group by senior Marissa Luden and junior Justina Jacquillard. Luden and Jacquillard are tabbed to play second and third singles, respectively.

Sophomores Anna Sowinski and Katherine Spottedbear will get a chance at first doubles. Sophomores Taylor Robbins and Sam Lauffer are the early candidates to play at second doubles.

Many things can happen over the course of the season. However, Kessler and the Scotties don't plan on deviating from their primary objective.

“If we can get into the top three with this team, that will definitely be a good season,” Kessler said. “I really believe we have a shot.”

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

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