Southmoreland tennis team motivated by last year's playoff near-miss
The Southmoreland girls tennis team came up one win short last season in its quest for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, so this year the obvious objective is to take the next step.
“We were 10-6 last year and didn't make the playoffs,” Southmoreland coach Jim Kessler said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs. It's going to be a challenge this year. There is a whole new lineup, but I'm always positive.”
The Scotties lost No. 1 singles player Justina Jacquillard and No. 3 singles starter Anna Sowinski to graduation. Also lost to graduation was the No. 1 doubles combo of Kat Spotted Bear and Taylor Robbins.
While graduation has hit Southmoreland hard, Kessler believes a lot of offseason work will help the Scotties be prepared for the upcoming season.
Junior Kaitlyn Walch, senior Monique Lepre and senior Sam Lauffer likely will play at No. 1 through No. 3 singles, respectively.
“They were excellent hitters to begin with and they've taken a lot of lessons this summer,” Kessler said. “It seems like the ones that played for (starting) positions are the ones that took lessons. The singles girls are good hitters, and I think they should do well.”
Kessler noted this year's roster features 12 players, and some younger players will likely see plenty of action at the varsity level.
Sophomores Sierra Jones and Haley Robbins will form the No. 1 doubles combination and will be counted on to win pivotal points for the Scotties.
“They keep everything in play,” Kessler said. “We have a strong first doubles team.”
Junior Gretchen Baker and sophomore Elise Proch will get the first crack at manning the No. 2 doubles unit, although Kessler acknowledged certain starting positions could change throughout the season.
With a lineup ready to go, the Scotties, who open the season Wednesday against visiting South Park, hope their hard work makes all the difference between making the playoffs from Section 1-AA and coming up just short.
“We almost made the playoffs last year, but a lot of girls have stepped up this summer,” Walch said. “I think we'll have a good shot at making the playoffs. I think we can go pretty far.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at email@example.com.