Last season, John Ciarimboli, who's coached the Southmoreland girls tennis team for 10 years, experienced something new.
"We were 5-7 in the section last year, and that was my first losing season," Ciarimboli said.
Ciarimboli is banking on a seasoned group of players this season.
"I'm very happy with this group," Ciarimboli said. "These girls are showing me a lot, and they're doing a nice job."
Ciarimboli has established senior players that will hold down several singles positions. Karyssa Gault and Kaylie Schroyer likely will be the first and second singles players, respectively.
At third singles, quite a battle is shaping up. Seniors Cassie Eiford and Christina Causser and junior Chelsea Pence are competing for that spot.
"They are vying for positions, and they are challenging each other," Ciarimboli said.
Of those three, one will earn the third singles spot, while the other two likely will form a first doubles tandem.
"Those girls will all be in the top five," Ciarimboli said. "Pence, Causser and Eiford have made huge improvements to their game, and they'll contribute a lot. With any of those girls, I can put them in at singles, and they are all very solid."
Rounding out the starting seven likely will be seniors Rachel Zaffina and Sarah Albright. The duo figures to form Southmoreland's second doubles pairing.
Having an established group of returning players certainly helps Ciarimboli in terms of getting ready for the season. He also likes that all of the players have shown a high level of commitment in the weeks leading up to the start of the season.
"For us, we're pretty solid because everyone is working real hard in practice," Ciarimboli said.
The Scotties will be compete in Section 1-AA with Brownsville, Derry, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, McGuffey, Mt. Pleasant and Washington. The top three will make the WPIAL playoffs, and Ciarimboli is hopeful that the Scotties will be in that group.
"... I think we'll be in contention for one of them," Ciarimboli said.
Southmoreland will open the season with a section match Aug. 31 at home against Washington.