Kennedy coach happy for district qualifiers
Vicki Orwig had trouble holding in her excitement. Why should she? The John F. Kennedy girls tennis coach is quite proud of four players heading to the Division II district tournament in Akron on Friday and Saturday.
Senior Kaitlyn Marlatt goes in as a No. 1 seed, playing Chagrin Falls’ Adelaide Doman at the Springside Racquet and Fitness Club.
Win that match and the next one and she’ll be in the district semifinals, playing for seeding for the state tournament the following week in Mason, a suburb of Cincinnati.
The top five singles and doubles from the district advance to state.
“If she’s got her A game on, she’s going to the next level,” Orwig said. “Hope she does because it’s her senior year. I really want her to go.”
Marlatt started playing at the age of 4 when she moved to China and spent plenty of time at the Shanghai Racquet Club. She practiced with international coaches and developed a love for the sport.
She started attending Kennedy in third grade at the lower campus.
“It wasn’t till I moved back here that it became a serious sport for me,” Marlatt said. “I loved playing because on the court if I make a mistake it is all on me. It forces me to stay sharp, focused and locked in the entire match.
“Playing this sport has made me much more of an independent person.”
She’s driven to win.
“During my tennis season, my teammates also motivate me to do my best,” Marlatt said. “I hate to let anyone down, especially my team considering we work extremely hard to try to win.”
Junior Paras Kontos, a three seed, plays Orrville’s Destiny Winans to start. Kontos has been to the district level before as a doubles player. This time, she goes in as a singles player. She’s made great strides in the offseason.
“She’s a powerful player,” Orwig said. “Once she settles down and plays consistently, it’s tough to get by her.”
Kontos changed sports from when she was younger. She swam competitively.
“As the years went on I started to not like swimming as much as I used to and that’s when I figured out my love of tennis,” Kontos said. “I always wanted to be on the tennis court more than the pool.”
This is the second year juniors Sophia Zamarelli and Caitlyn Condoleon have played as a double team. They take that experience into the district.
“They’re starting to know the game and they’re starting to execute,” Orwig said. “I think that’s amazing to watch.”
Condoleon and Zamarelli, a two seed, take on Notre Dame-Catheral Latin’s Molly Lee and Sarah Harlan in the first round.
The JFK duo are good friends and if it weren’t for Condoleon’s encouragement, Zamarelli might not be on the court. She was 8 years old when she started playing.
“It was something we could do together,” Zamarelli said. “It’s crazy how things work out because today she’s my doubles partner and we’re heading to districts. If it wasn’t for her, I can say that I would not be playing tennis today.”
Condoleon has been motivated from an early age. She’s a standout at Kennedy in soccer, basketball and tennis. Her athleticism from the two other sports transfers quite well to the tennis court.
Her parents motivate her to work hard, never give up and give 110 percent.
“Basketball and soccer have taught me to always keep my head in the game, always strive to seek out my fullest potential and always do your very best,” Condoleon said.
Playing for JFK is quite the honor, Zamarelli said.
“I feel very lucky to get to hit with such amazing players every day and have great role models to help me improve my game,” she said. “I want to do well for my school to show people that just because Kennedy is small, it can still put up a fight.”
That’s what Orwig is hoping for on Friday.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” she said. “I’m just so proud of them.”