Strong returning core paces MC over Warwick
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
The Manheim Central girls tennis team can relate to Warwick this fall.
The Lady Warriors are a team trying to make up for the departure of four of their top six players from 2012.
That was the boat in which the Lady Barons found themselves last year at this time. On Monday, they were a much-more experienced team when they faced Warwick in both teams’ non-league opener in Lititz. After sweeping three doubles matches, Central went on to knock off the Warwick girls by a 6-1 score.
"We were a little green last year," Manheim Central coach Ryan Jeckel said. "I lost a bunch of starters from the year before so that was kind of the first experience for a lot of them playing varsity last season. So I felt like that was the advantage we had (Monday) going into it. I have four seniors (Sophie Iosue, Jessy Miller, Kelli Barber, Sarah Painter) right there at the top who kinda have been there now a little bit and know what to expect. I think just going out there and knowing what’s expected of them and knowing what to expect on the other side of things really gives us an advantage."
"We have very little experience, that’s the problem," Warwick coach Ron Wanner said. "(Manheim Central) is stronger up top than we are. They’ve got some nice players up there. Once you get down a little further in the lineup, then things even out a little bit, but it didn’t matter (Monday) because they were stronger up top."
Manheim Central’s Iosue and Miller paired up to defeat Warwick’s junior Maddie Class and junior Kelley Hershey 8-3 at first doubles, and then the tandem of Kelli Barber/Sarah Painter earned an 8-3 decision over Emily Norton and Meg Barr at two. Central finished off the doubles sweep behind Cassidy Fischer and Kulp, who spun an 8-3 victory over Courtney Grossman and freshman Cat Mitchell.
"I was pretty pleased," Jeckel said. "I thought we did a good job of hitting the types of shots we wanted to hit, hitting targets and just playing some good tennis."
That good tennis continued into singles play, where Manheim Central took three of four matches to nail down the decision. Iosue was solid in a 6-1, 6-2 win at number one over Class, who played third singles last year, and then Miller prevailed by a 6-3, 6-4 score over Hershey at two. Hershey played with Class at number three doubles in 2012 for Warwick.
Barber notched the Lady Barons’ final win at number three, putting together a 6-3, 6-1 decision over Norton. Warwick’s Barr spoiled the Lady Barons’ shutout, holding off Painter 7-5 in the first set and then finishing it with a 6-2 win.
"It was a good, tight match," Wanner said of the Barr vs. Painter battle. "Last year was (Meg’s) first year as a sophomore that she came out, so she doesn’t have much experience either, but she has really worked and basically done what she needed to do to improve. So I’m sure she was excited about getting that first win."
Warwick played its second non-league match in three days yesterday (Wednesday) when traveled to Denver to face Cocalico.
"I don’t know the strengths of the league this year," Wanner said. "We’re pretty raw at this point. The girls are working hard, they’ll do whatever I ask them to – it’s a great bunch of kids. It’s going to be an interesting season to see exactly how we do because there’s not that much experience there."
For Manheim Central, Monday’s match kicked off a stretch of three matches in four days to begin the season. The Lady Barons hosted another Section One team in Hempfield yesterday (Wednesday) and they welcome Hershey to Manheim today (Thursday).
"We only had one week to get ready for the season," Jeckel said. "Matches came quickly. We have Hempfield (Wednesday), so we kinda felt like the window of opportunity to get better was pretty tight. But the girls worked at getting better every single day."
The good news for the Central girls is that Sophie Rathmell rejoined the team following Monday’s match after being out of town, giving the Lady Barons added depth.
"I feel good about (the team)," Jeckel remarked. "We got (Rathmell) back starting (Tuesday) and so we’ll have her moving forward for the rest of the season. So I feel even better about my top group."
The Lady Barons open Section Two play at Pequea Valley next Tuesday, Aug. 27 and then they host Lancaster Catholic on Thursday, Aug. 29. Jeckel expects that his team will be a contender for the Section Two title, but their match against the Crusaders figures to be a key showdown.
"I think we’re going to be right in the mix," Jeckel said. "I mean, I think that if we play up to our ability and play to our potential, I think that we will definitely be in that conversation. I think the team to beat right now I would say is either Catholic or Lampeter-Strasburg. I would say probably Catholic. I don’t think that they lost a whole lot."
The quest for the Central girls is to make consistent improvement during the season.
"Our goal is just to kinda keep getting better every single day, every match and just kinda play great tennis," Jeckel said. "I keep telling the girls that as long as we stay on point with getting better every day, the results will come."
More TENNIS, page B-2