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Sports

MP netters trying to stay atop section

| Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004

Mount Pleasant's tennis teams have consistently been contenders for the section title over the past several seasons. With five returning lettermen among a field of 27 players from which to choose, the Lady Vikings could climb back to the top of Section 1-AA this year as well.

Mount Pleasant finished with a 9-1 section record and a 14-2 mark overall last season to earn their section title, and despite losing five players to graduation, the team has a strong group of returning players. Captains Brianne Ludwick, Vicki Mull and Erica Sukay, along with fellow returning letter winners Amanda Felker and Melissa Grindle, will provide some experience.

"Brianne Ludwick will be the number one singles player this season. She was a WPIAL singles and doubles qualifier last year," head coach Tony Splendore said. "Vicki Mull moved up from first doubles to number two singles."

Ludwick and Mull, both seniors, are joined at singles by junior Melissa Grindle, who has moved up from her spot at second doubles last season to take the third singles position.

With Mull and Grindle moving up, seniors Sukay and Felker have stepped into the first doubles spot. Both were doubles players last season as well.

"Second doubles will come from (freshman) Leisha Durstine, (senior) Ashlee Miller and (senior) Krystal Nelson," Splendore said.

So far, Durstine and Miller have teamed up at that position.

With such a large roster, Splendore said there are plenty of other candidates who could see playing time.

Splendore said Mount Pleasant has spent much of its practice time working on serving and eliminating double faults.

"Also, forehand and backhand are being emphasized, along with some net play," he said.

In order to accommodate the large turnout, Splendore said he has implemented two practice sessions, which he is juggling on the high school's four available courts. He's also operating without an assistant.

"We lost the assistant coach due to budget cuts, and it's difficult with 27 girls on the team and only one coach," he said.

Budget cuts aside, the Lady Vikings' biggest hurdle will most likely be the Lady Centurions, according to Splendore.

"Greensburg Central Catholic is the favorite," he said, noting that none of Mount Pleasant's section rivals seem to be pushovers. "Brownsville and Southmoreland have improved and are also contenders. Jeannette and Derry have also improved and could surprise everyone."

The Lady Vikings are currently 4-0 in section play and are competing in the Section 1-AA singles tournament. The team's next dual match will be a home contest against Southmoreland on Wednesday.

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