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Frazier tennis players aid Brownsville team

| Sunday, April 13, 2014, 11:03 p.m.
Jason Black | Daily Courier
Frazier students (from left) Jake Koltiska, Chad Koltiska and Ryan Hartz enjoy competing for the Brownsville boys tennis team.

Frazier High School doesn't have a varsity tennis team, but that doesn't mean the school doesn't have tennis players.

For the third straight season, Frazier is involved in a co-op program with the Brownsville varsity boys tennis team, which allows Frazier students to compete for the Brownsville varsity squad during the spring season.

This year, three Frazier students are taking advantage of the opportunity to get on the court in a competitive atmosphere.

Senior Jake Koltiska, junior Ryan Hartz and freshman Chad Koltiska have not only joined the Brownsville team, but also are having a positive impact.

All three are regular starters for the Brownsville squad.

“I have eight total kids and you need seven to play, so you can see that without those three, I would be forfeiting our season,” Brownsville coach Dan Lonigro said. “They have been very strong and winning points.”

Lonigro pointed out that not only do the Frazier players compete with the Brownsville team, they also practice with them.

“They are humble and quiet, but they are very dedicated,” Lonigro said.

While Lonigro enjoys having the Frazier players on the team, the feeling seems to be mutual.

“It's a good experience and a lot of fun,” said Hartz, who noted that meeting new people and making new friends is part of the experience that makes competing enjoyable.

There are tennis courts at Frazier High School, which allows the players to work on their hitting strokes and technique. However, Chad Koltiska said he believes getting the chance to play is so much better.

“It's organized (on the team) and it's a lot better than just hitting,” Chad Koltiska said.

Chad Koltiska, who is 2-3 in doubles play, pointed out that he and his brother, Jake, became interested in playing varsity tennis after practicing with Hartz on the courts at Frazier. Those courts also were the setting for what turned out to be the beginning of the schools' cooperative agreement.

“I was working a clinic at Frazier for community service and coach Lonigro was there,” Hartz said. “He told me he would see if I would be able to play for Brownsville.”

Hartz is in his third season with the Falcons, and has ascended to the team's first singles position. He has been a valuable asset to the team and recently finished second in the Section 1-AA singles tournament, which earned him a spot in the WPIAL tournament. Hartz was defeated by Blackhawk's Jonah Cooper in the first round of WPIALs on April 7. He is 8-0 in section matches this season.

Chad Koltiska has been able to hold down a spot on the second doubles team in his first season at the varsity level. Jake Koltiska is in his second season with the team. He played at third singles last year, but has moved up to second singles this season.

Jake and Chad Koltiska also play another varsity sport. They play golf for Frazier in the fall. Jake, who is 3-5 in singles play this year, played for the Frazier baseball team in the past. However, he's happy with his decision to focus on tennis.

“I like playing tennis and it's nice to have those friends (on the Brownsville team),” Jake Koltiska said. “I was playing baseball, but when Ryan started playing tennis, I switched and I have no regrets.”

The Frazier trio competes in all of Brownsville's matches. They typically are dismissed from Frazier at 2 p.m. when Brownsville has a 4 p.m. home match. The drive from Frazier to Brownsville is approximately 25 minutes.

Brownsville's tennis team has gotten off to a slow start at 2-6, but the players from Frazier are hoping things turn around in the second half of the season.

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