by Matt DeutscH
After posting a winning season in 2015, the Nordonia High School girls tennis team is hoping to duplicate that feat this year.
The Lady Knights finished with an overall record of 11-10 last season. They also posted a mark of 1-6 in their first year of the Suburban League National Conference.
Nordonia lost two players to graduation, but the Lady Knights are welcoming back four seniors. The two departed players are Gabby Cali and Stephanie Schmocker. The four seniors are Rachel Kopniske, Courtney DelGiudice, Alyssa Sansavera and Becca Cermak.
Also returning are junior Jacqueline Wendel-Pinyon and sophomore Helena Marcic, who missed last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
According to 13th-year head coach Ryan Vehar, Marcic suffered a setback during the preseason and her knee is currently being evaluated. Vehar also indicated that starting spots for both singles and doubles have yet to be determined.
However, he appears to have plenty of viable options in terms of personnel.
"We have some veteran returning players and younger talent, as well," Vehar said. "We're looking to possibly get another sophomore or junior on the varsity team. We have a lot of girls who are solid players. There's not much drop-off between our core group of girls.
"All of our girls are working hard on their tennis games and they keep improving. Hopefully, our varsity team will be deep enough. Our JV team will definitely have a lot of returning players and there's plenty of freshmen talent."
The Lady Knights will have their collective hands full with the competition in the National Conference.
"Hudson and Wadsworth are always tough, along with Twinsburg, Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and North Royalton," Vehar said. "Everybody has a solid team. We'll play our best and do what we can."
While it's unclear whether or not Nordonia can post another winning record in 2016, the main goal for the Lady Knights remains the same: continual improvement throughout the campaign.
"We want to compete and continue to improve as the season goes on," Vehar said. "We also want to get player experience at every grade level. The upperclassmen have done a good job of setting the tone and coming ready to practice and practicing hard. They've helped the younger girls out in that respect."
Vehar also is the head coach of the boys squad. His assistant coaches this season are Alex Simon and Josh Bertolone.
"I like the way the team is shaping up," Vehar said. "This is a group that seems to like each other and is very coachable.
"That makes it fun for them to get better every day. They're learning new things about tennis and having fun doing it."
Nordonia is scheduled to open its 2016 season at Ravenna Aug. 12. Play is set to begin at 4:15 p.m.
The Lady Knights are scheduled to visit Barrington Country Club Aug. 16 at 4 p.m.
They are set to visit Cleveland Heights Aug. 17 at Cain Park. Play is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m.