By SCOTT COTTOS
Coach Yvette Anez doesn’t know what to expect from her Fostoria High School girls tennis team, but she’ll have quite a few options in her quest for success.
Seventeen girls are out for tennis this season. Only four have varsity experience and many have no real experience with the game, but there is a pool of talent.
“I’m going to give credit to the kids who played last year and the year before,” the Lady Red’s third-year coach said. “They just really kind of talked the program up and how much fun we were having, and kids came out.”
Fostoria posted a 4-14 record last season after going 0-18 the previous year. Losing isn’t fun, but taking on a challenge and showing improvement certainly can be.
“It’s just that learning process, of learning a new game,” Anez said. “You know, we went from not winning any my first year to winning four last year and being competitive. The kids can see that tennis is not real hard, and I’ve got some athletes out here. There’s just that instinct of wanting to win and getting to the ball and hitting it. They make up for it just by being athletic.”
The anchor of the Lady Red’s 2016 success was Ilona Piironen, a foreign exchange student from Finland who held down the No. 1 singles spot.
“She showed the kids a few things here and there,” Anez said. “It was just nice to play against her, and she really enjoyed tennis. And the kids really embraced her. She was really a sweet kid. A little on the quiet side, but the kids really liked her. She made us better.”
Junior Jennaleigh McCumber (6-17 last season) will likely move up to play No. 1 singles for Fostoria. The No. 2 and 3 spots are likely to go to juniors Kyhra Baeder (11-12) and Naija Miller (8-14), respectively.
Sophomore Rubi Dessausure (8-9) should be one half of the Lady Red’s No. 1 doubles pairing.
Seniors Larai Williams and Maddison Freeman are among several first-year players looking for spots in Fostoria’s lineup.
Tonique Jones and Shanelle Smith are the Lady Red’s juniors, with Mya Weimerskirch, Imani Velazquez, Abrianna Swartz, Michelle Gao, Laticia Birchfield and Harmony Lee composing the sophomore class. Nikia Ferguson is the squad’s lone freshman.
Anez said the inexperience of the team requires a lot of teaching of the sport’s basics. She doesn’t know how that will translate in terms of quality of play.
“I don’t know what to expect,” she said. “We’re going to come out and play some tennis and see what happens. If it falls into place, it does. If not, we’ve got all of next year. I’ve got so many young kids coming back. We’ll be, I think, very competitive next year. We’ll see where it goes.”
In Friday’s opener, the Lady Red swept both doubles matches en route to edging Toledo Scott 3-2.
Swartz and Weimerskirch defeated Tiara and Tiana Jones, 6-3, 6-2 in the first doubles spot while Velasquez and Ferguson topped Brynian Walker and C.J. Woodward, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 1 singles player Jennaleigh McCumber scored 6-2, 6-4 win for the Lady Red over Desi Oshodin.
The Bulldogs picked up wins in No. 2 singles as Tariana King defeated Khyra Baeder, 6-4, 6-2, and Ramona Stephenson topped Naija Miller, 6-4, 6-4 in No. 3 singles.
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