Players look to step up for Niagara-Wheatfield tennis
As the Niagara-Wheatfield tennis team moves into the 2012 season they do so with a roster that graduated four of seven starters from a team that went 9-5 in the Niagara Frontier League last season.
But with a solid core of talented tenth graders, coach Dan Krolewski is confident his team will once again be a force in league play.
And while some teams may struggle to adjust after losing that many seniors, Krolewski said the program is used to the revolving door process of losing vets and gaining youth year after year.
“We’ve kind of had the same pattern where every year we’ve been lucky where we’ve had about five seniors or so, four of which are starters, every year. Then we get about four or five new players every year, too.” Krolewski said. “We’ve been able to maintain our numbers, but every year you have to kind of reload. Because a lot of the seniors get most of the experience and when they’re gone the younger guys have to step up. It’s just the nature of high school tennis.”
The onus of first singles now falls on the shoulders of sophomore Jason Bolea.
While first singles is the slot that generally features pure tennis kids that play at country clubs, Bolea has the ability to stand toe-to-toe with any opponent. Anthony Farr will also play singles, while Austin Hayes and Trevor Hauck will likely split time at singles and doubles.
Brandon Sokol, Dan Pisarcik, Randy Chase and Alex Hammerer will be utilized primarily in doubles play.
Hammerer comes to the team with an impressive 2011-12 scholastic resume as he not only qualified for the state golf tournament, he was also the goalie for the Niagara-Wheatfield hockey team that made the state title tournament.
Entering tryouts knowing that at least four starting spots would be up for grabs has also inspired everyone to work even harder because they see that window of opportunity is open.
“Absolutely,” Krolewski said. “Last year, with the seniors and the other juniors that were starting I think a lot of the new guys, the new sophomores knew that had to kind of wait at least a year before they’d really be able to contribute in a starting spot. They’ve improved so now it’s their time so they’re really excited for the opportunity.”
The Falcons are also lucky in terms of numbers to work with. While some programs are struggling to maintain numbers, Niagara-Wheatfield has 18 kids on its roster this spring.
“A lot of the other teams across the league have gone down in numbers,” Krolewski said. “We’re still fortunate to have guys who are interested and work hard for six days a week.”