Last season New Paltz girls’ tennis had it all — well almost (there is always Spackenkill to spoil everything), a 9-1 regular season record (the only loss? to Spackenkill…of course) and an MHAL doubles title by Johanna Cohen and Emma Snook (the first girls’ title since 2005 when Yael Liebovitch and Mary Bostwick won the doubles title). It also saw the emergence of now-junior Jessica Staub as a legitimate number one singles player and now-freshman Julia Cohen in number one doubles with the now-graduated Gina Abrams — this year moving up to number two singles. Otherwise, everything is kind of wide open. With good players, but still wide open.
“It’s a major rebuilding year, what with four starters from last year graduated. Jessica is back at first singles, and Julia to second, but we’re still trying to figure out the rest,” said coach Scott Taylor.
The “rest” will come from a promising group of returnees — junior Aliyah Cohn, senior Lauren Kossover, senior Giovanna Varuzza, senior Eliana Correll, sophomores Jackie Cordovano, Liana Glaser and Alice Lee, and newcomers, sophomore Emma Hoffman, and freshmen Amy Maginness, Anaise Nicolas and Shannon Weeks.
“I think we’ll be competitive with the other teams in the league, but it will be a challenge to match last year’s record. But everyone is working hard and it’ll be interesting to see who steps into the starting lineup.”
New Paltz opens the 2011 season at Spackenkill on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m.; then has its home-opener against Ellenville on Monday, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m. at the Middle School.
For Highland, outside of returning first singles junior Gabby Lichtenstein and returning first doubles, seniors Amy Jacobini and Vanessa Robinson, the rest is a whole new ball game. Including a new coach.
Alan Benson takes over for Chris Sgro and knows that he has to build off of last season’s 2-9 record. “I know we lost a lot of close matches last year, so I know that the talent is there, especially at first singles and doubles, we’ll just have to see how the returning Nicole Bellacicco and Kathryn Bender (third and second singles respectively) turn out. Amy and Vanessa are powerful players individually, and I did think about having them play singles, but they play so well together that I wanted to keep them there.”
After the singles trio and first doubles, Benson will have to come up with a second doubles team from juniors Sara Bennett and Lauren Fleming, and freshmen Erika Rosenkranse and Puja Saha. One of the team setbacks was the loss of juniors Sydney Lutz and Aiden Dedrich to work and AP classes. “They would definitely be in the mix, of course as returning players, but even so, I’m looking forward to this year and hopefully what I can do with this team.”
Highland opens their home season hosting Red Hook on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. at Tony Williams Park.