Waite, Clay returnees have proven they can perform

J. Patrick Eaken

Clay girls tennis returns three letter winners after finishing 10-6 overall and 4-3 in the TRAC last year.

Returning are first and second singles players Kinsley Jahns and Allie LaPlante. Jahns won a sectional championship and earned honorable mention All-TRAC and all-district honors last year. Coach Walt Ralph says others have shown improvement and he believes they will make an impact.

“Ella Orr has worked really hard to put herself in the mix for a singles position. Rebekah Kolinski should provide some stability as a doubles player,” Ralph said. “Grace Fortier worked hard in the off-season to prepare herself as an incoming freshman.”

The Eagles are 3-3, defeating Springfield 4-1, Oak Harbor 5-0, and Maumee Valley 5-0, but losing to Ottawa Hills 4-1 and they were shut out 5-0 by Sylvania Northview and Perrysburg. 

In the win over the Rockets Wednesday, every match came in straight sets. Jahns defeated Kaitlyn Strouse 6-0, 6-1 in first singles, LaPlante downed Ashley Schiller 6-0, 6-2 in second singles and Orr defeated Colleen Warner 6-1, 6-1 in third singles. In first doubles, Rebekah Kolinski and Grace Fortier defeated Emma Hand and Jessa Bolander 7-5, 7-6 and in second doubles, Vanessa Horvath and Danica Canterbury downed Hailey Frondorf and Addison Auer, 6-3, 7-5.

Ralph is hoping once his team reaches league play, the early non-league experience will pay off.

“We are young. We will work hard to improve upon our fourth place finish from last year,” Ralph said. “It is a good group of girls who are eager to learn and work hard. We should be able to be quick learners and a supportive team. We are fairly inexperienced at the doubles positions. We will need strong leadership from our singles positions while our doubles players learn and grow.”

Ralph is in his 49th season at the helm, covering boys and girls tennis over 25 years. He has been a head prep tennis coach nowhere else.


Seeking City championship

Waite girls tennis returns five letter winners from a team that just played five matches last year because of the pandemic, going 2-3 in the Toledo City League.

Waite fourth-year coach Justin Carmack believes this year his team has a shot at the conference championship.

“Our top three singles players have all improved as they have been working super hard this season to improve upon their success from last year. They tasted victory last year and want to make a run at the City League title,” Carmack said. “I feel like the competition in the City League is very challenging. I feel like we can compete with any of the other teams. 

“Considering I return my top five players and return eight players all total I am expecting big things this year in the City,” Carmack said. “Our first two City League matches are against defending champions Start and then Bowsher so we will find out real quick where we are in relation to the rest of the City League teams. Start and Bowsher have been the team in my years that have won the titles.” 

Returning are all three singles players — senior Jordin Richardson at first singles, sophomore Veronica “Roni” Coffman at second singles, and sophomore Arianna Dunnegan at third singles. Seniors Kila Rison and Adriana Pozo return at first doubles.

This will be Richardson’s third year competing at first singles for Waite, and she has been awarded honorable mention All-City honors her first three years. Coffman was also HM All-City last year.

“Richardson has been my top player for the past 3 years and each year she has matured and her game has developed,” said Carmack. “With being the ‘top dawg’ comes the challenge of playing the other team’s best player and Jordin has done a beautiful job each year improving and competing at the highest level with some of the best girls in the area. 

“Coffman and Dunnagan have been a very pleasant surprise in only their second year of competitive tennis. They had never played a competitive match until last fall and as the year went on both their skill sets and maturity on the court grew and they finished the season playing unbelievably. All three girls have been going to open courts throughout the off season and we have high expectations for them as we enter the season.”

Carmack has newcomers he is also expecting to contribute.

“Freshman Ilianah Moctezuma-Vargas has been at all of my open courts since the school year has ended and she has shown massive growth and should be a valuable asset to the team this fall,” Carmack said.

The Waite coach believes there is something special going on with this year’s squad, too.

“Strengths are that we are a very close team and they truly get along with each other,” Carmack said. “My seniors ‘adopt’ the underclassmen and they build connections with each other that goes beyond the tennis courts.”











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