Veteran Howland team hoping for strong year

Paul Newlove can’t be happier, seeing 12 of the 14 girls on his girls tennis roster as returning letterwinners.

“We have a corps back that is pretty good,” Newlove said. “We have four seriously good players. We have a couple that are pretty good.”

Seniors Deena Awadalla, Marissa Jocola, Michelle Lussier, Harvest Radich and Natalie Orr, along with sophomore Nicole Lussier and freshman Bella Elisco make up the Tigers’ top seven.

Howland has got off to a 4-0 start, better than last year’s 2-2 beginning.

“We lost to Lakeview and Struthers last year,” Newlove said. “We beat Lakeview and Struthers this year. I think that sort of shows how our strength has changed.”

One thing that won’t change is how proud Newlove is of his team.

“Our girls are really nice,” he said. “They’re really polite. Howland High School can be proud of them. They behave themselves … they’re just good people. Every single girl is on the honor roll at Howland High School. I think that says something, also. Fourteen girls on the team, 12 returning and they’re all on the honor roll.”

CARDINAL MOONEY: The Cardinals are hands down the team to beat in this area.

They have less than a handful of losses in the past two seasons and are undefeated to start 2013.

“It’s probably one of the better teams in the state,” Mooney coach Jimmy Leslie said.

Mooney is led by four seniors – No. 1 singles player Kacey Haggerty, No. 1 doubles team Jamie DiDomenico and Dominique Cicchi and second doubles player Lexie Kleeh.

“They’ve all played since they were 6,” Leslie said.

Sophomore Lizzie Matthews plays with Kleeh and juniors Gianna Reider and Hallie Yerian are the second and third singles players.

CANFIELD: Hannah Cianciola is not your ordinary freshman. Her mother, Susan Cianciola, is a tennis teaching professional and has had Hannah playing since she could hold a racquet – participating in many USTA tournaments.

“Her mom is a teaching pro,” Canfield coach Rob Stevens said. “Played since she was old enough to pick up a racquet. She put a lot of time in the offseason. Played a lot of USTA tournaments as well.”

Canfield’s No. 1 doubles team is junior Brianna Slemons and senior Mary Elizabeth Monda. The second doubles team usually varies from match to match, Stevens said.

Besides Cianciola in singles, sophomores Ashley Kaleel and Taya El-Hayek round out the Cardinals’ lineup.

“Right now we’re trying to get better each day and each match,” Stevens said. “At the end of the season, we’re hopefully playing our best tennis. We lost 10 seniors, most were in the starting lineup. Always good to see young players step up and take those spots.”

JOHN F. KENNEDY: Sophomore Maria Stroup was Megan Guliano’s doubles partner last year. The two made a run into districts.

This year, Stroup is Kennedy’s No. 1 singles player and Guliano has graduated.

Stroup, junior Alona Howard and senior Rachel Pinti are the returning letterwinners on a team depleted by graduation.

“It’s definitely a rebuilding year,” Kennedy coach Laura Kolovich said.

Sophomore Erin Walsh, who transferred in this year from Indiana, is playing singles with Pinti.

Howard and freshman Gina Biviano are first singles, while junior Marisa Pipino and freshman Karoline Kaiser are the second singles.

“They’re starting to get some confidence under their belts,” Kolovich said. “For the newcomers, that’s a very good thing to know they can compete with some of the teams out there. They’re starting to have fun and gel together as a team. For me, that’s what I want to see. With only one senior, we need to build that senior team spirit again in order for the program to go.”

BROOKFIELD: The Warriors are off to a 5-0 start this season and have 11 players on its roster, meaning the team will avoid any forfeits like they had last year when there were only five Warrior players and had to forfeit the No. 2 doubles every match. Brookfield was 5-12 last season.

“I’m anticipating a winning record,” Brookfield coach Kevin Boyd said.

He has senior Ashley Kirila and sophomore Autumn Kirila, who pace the Warriors. Autumn was one match away from going to districts.

Freshman Alexandra Plyler is playing third singles.

Seniors Leah Bayer and Samantha Zigler, along with juniors Ana Zarlinski and Sharlene Sherbeck, return. Zigler, who played third singles as a sophomore, was out last year due to an injury.

LAKEVIEW: Sasha Pavlenko, a first-team All-American Conference player, is not the Bulldogs’ top singles player for nothing. The Lakeview senior is able to keep a level head and is a good example for her teammates.

“She is a real leader,” Lakeview coach Stephanie Hickey said. “She’s a fighter and a competitor. I think that’s what the other girls see. They fight and never give up. That motivates everybody else to do things.”

Seniors Brooke Beatty and Sarah Garvin, along with sophomore Clarie Rowlands are the team’s returning letterwinners.

Beatty and Garvin are singles players, while Rowlands plays doubles.

“Claire Rowlands plays a lot of doubles with her dad and sister. She knows the doubles game. I kept her in the No. 1 spot consistently,” Hickey said.

Also, Lakeview has two freshman in Lauren Paczak and Carlie Stein, who Hickey said have good all-around games.

LORDSTOWN: The Red Devils don’t believe in rebuilding. They are reloading with seven freshmen to replenish a team devoid of eight graduated seniors.

“Expectations are good,” Lordstown coach Joe Ronghi said. “With this class coming, hopefully they know our tradition at the school with tennis and they want to pick up where we left off last year.”

Senior Marina Patitucci is the team’s No. 1 player and one of a handful of returning letterwinners.

The Red Devils won the NET (Northeastern Tennis) title again last season.

“We have high expectations this year,” Ronghi said. “West Branch and Lordstown will battle for the title.”

Senior Melanie Fisher has seen some time, but so has freshmen Trish Kohut and Dakota Naples, who have fit into the second and third singles spots.