August 27, 2008
Tigers look to contend
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jaimee Robertson returns to hold down the number one singles slot for Cortland High this season.
By TANEY BEAUMONT
The Cortland High girls’ tennis team lost a lot, and yet has a good deal back, from last season’s OHSL Freedom Division co-championship squad.
Coach Bob Walrath’s Purple Tigers — who went 13-1 in the league to share the title with Chittenango and finished 15-3 overall last fall — open their 2008 season by hosting Fowler at 4:15 p.m. Thursday.
A total of 10 players graduated in June, including three first-team all-leaguers and a pair of second-teamers. Kim Hall was the lone first-team singles player, going 20-2 last season in her first and only season playing the sport scholastically. At third singles, Hall reached the sectional quarterfinals.
Lauren Shirley was a first-team first doubles pick with junior returnee Courtney Tennant (18-4), and departed Liz Chappell teamed with junior returnee Maggie Reagan to earn first-team laurels at second doubles (14-1). Robin Hesse and Eva Rosenthal were second-team all-league at second doubles and have moved on after going 13-5 last fall.
Heading up the list of returning players in addition to Tennant and Reagan are two talented seniors, Jaimee Robertson and Molly Bramschreiber.
Robertson went 17-7 in first singles last season, making it to the sectional semifinals, and was a first-team all-leaguer. Bramschreiber, meanwhile, was 17-4 at second singles, got to the sectional quarterfinals and was also a first-team all-leaguer.
Other returning seniors are Taylor Warren, Abbey Place, Brooke Preston and Nicole Wageck. Other juniors who are back include Naomi Chappell (Liz’s sister), Marlyss Darrow, Heather Sherwood, Lisa Martin and Danielle Payne.
This year’s captains are Robertson (for the third year), Warren and Bramschreiber.
Newcomers this fall are juniors Monica Mo and Nadia Skotsen and sophomore Inna Yanchuk.
“I like our prospects,” Walrath said. “I think we’ll be in every match. “We’re coming off a championship season, and graduation didn’t leave the cupboard bare. We have some nice players back, something to build on. Our practices have been crisp; once we put players in the right positions we’ll be OK.
“We’re not as deep, though, as in past seasons, and we have to learn how to take care of the ball. I’ve been seeing too many unforced errors in practice. We have a good nucleus to build around, but the big question is that depth. Some players will have to fill some pretty big shoes, and how they respond could dictate how the season goes.”
Walrath said that his tentative starting lineup for Thursday will have Robertson at first singles and Bramschreiber at second singles. The other singles spot and four doubles positions are still to be settled.
“Chittenango should be the favorite this season,” Walrath said in assessing the league. “They have almost everyone back. Jamesville-DeWitt is always going to be strong, and I think we’ll compete. It will be interesting to see what happens.
“We’ve always had the reputation as a blue-collar team, with no real blue-chip athletes but with players who work hard and scrap. I’m a little concerned, because I don’t see that yet this year. We’ve got to take care of the things we can control, all the time.”
Cheri (Drake) Olsen will coach the junior varsity team again this season.
Trojans gearing up for Freedom debut
Homer Central girls begin a new challenge Thursday when the Trojan will open the 2008 season with the first of 10 new opponents.
The Trojans will be playing in the OHSL Liberty Division this season, starting with a trip to Pulaski for the 11 a.m. opener. Trojan coach Nancy Cavellier enters her 20th season with a more-seasoned team than one year ago, but still has a lot of underclassmen on her roster.
The Trojans were 6-7 in Freedom Division play and 6-8 overall in 2007.
“I am pleasantly optimistic,” Cavellier said. “I have six returning seniors, but we still need to stay healthy. The good thing is that these seniors do bring good leadership to the table.
“I really love our enthusiasm,” Cavellier added. “The girls are very into it. They are working hard, but we are having some fun at the same time.”
Seniors Mariah Hubbard and Cady Spencer are the team captains and both saw varsity action in 2007. Spencer was 4-5 in singles competition and she will play third singles this season. She was also 4-3 in doubles competition while Hubbard was 0-2 in singles and 0-3 in doubles behind some graduated teammates.
Michelle Pfleuger and Hope Chambrone are back for their senior year and they were Freedom Division honorable mentions after posting a 9-5 record in doubles competition as juniors.
Alaina Ryan is another returning senior with doubles experience. Senior Emily Martin played both singles and doubles in 2007, but is gong to see singles action this season.
Heading the list of returning juniors is Jean Martinez, who earned first-team all-star status at first singles with her 12-2 overall record and she was play first singles again in 2008.
Rachel Perry posted a 9-6 record in doubles competition in 2007 and the junior will play doubles again this season.
Other returning players juniors Kendra Brown and Micala Hammond, who will both see time in doubles competition; plus sophomores Sarah Dart and Lizzy Kniffin. Dart will play exhibition matches while Kniffin will see doubles competition.
Courtney Delia is another junior who did not play in 2007, but was on the varsity roster as a freshman. She will see exhibition action along with junior newcomer Cayla Hartnett.
The remaining new faces are all freshmen and they include Manseerat Dhami, Molly Gray, Danielle Howell, Amanda Sibbitts, Michelle Spencer and Hannah Teter. Spencer and Teter are slated to see action in doubles competition.
With the new division comes a bunch of new challenges.
“Our new league will be very challenging,” Cavellier said. “Six of the 10 teams are strong. Cazenovia, Marcellus, Skaneateles and Westhill have all girls that play year round. Manlius-Pebble Hill and CBA are very tough as well. A number of the players from each of these schools belong to places like Drumlins and have a lot of tournament experience.”
After traveling to Pulaski, Homer will return for the home opener against Bishop Grimes next Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.
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