Fenwick, Trinity tennis pumped for season

Friars' Gutierrez takes over top singles; Lappe back with Blazers

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Lauren Recchia

Contributing Reporter

The Fenwick High School girls tennis team appears poised to make some noise in conference play this season

Fresh off a strong second-place showing in the East Suburban Catholic Conference in 2012, the Friars look to continue their success, led by talented sophomore Laura Gutierrez. Gutierrez and Mia Sullivan went 20-10 last season for the Friars at No. 1 doubles. Gutierrez is slotted as the Friars' No. 1 singles player this year.

"I just want to give 110 percent effort in every match," she said. "If I win, I win. If I lose, at least I'll go down fighting. I can promise that it won't be a walk in the park if you play me."

The Friars also return senior singles player Dana Balk (8-14 in 2012) who figures to complement Gutierrez well in the Friars' singles rotation.

"Making state this year would be a great way to finish out my amazing tennis career at Fenwick," Balk said. "We just have to play our hearts out and try our very best not only in competition but during practice as well."

Senior Tierney Vrdolyak is another seasoned player set to bolster the Fenwick singles flights.

"I hope to exemplify the qualities of a true sportsman and leader, win or lose," she said. "I've found showing a smile and playing with a sense of fun can go a long way toward encouraging my teammates and coaches while a match is in play."

Veteran head coach Gerard Sullivan knows what it will take for Fenwick to win.

"To win conference, we will need a champion," he said. "We will need to place first in at least one of the five flights as well along with doing well at the others."

As for Gutierrez, she knows how important it is to excel individually in order to keep the Friars in the conference title chase while also representing Fenwick pride.

"I just want to continue to maintain a high level of play," she said. "I'm not just playing for myself anymore; I'm playing for my school, for our shield, and our name."

Lappe happy to be back with Blazers

Trinity girls tennis head coach Mary Ann Lappe returns at the helm after missing last season due to rotator cuff surgery and subsequent rehabilitation. With Carolyn Rutili serving as the interim head coach, Trinity finished sixth at the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference tournament in 2012.

"I definitely missed it," Lappe said, "but I'll get back into it right away. The girls know the routine because they've had me for so long. The only adjustment was figuring out a couple of the new sophomores and freshmen that came out for the first time this season."

The Blazers welcome back several key players, notably top singles players Barrina Sims, Katie Hazen, Mary Pacer, Erica Koth, along with Nanette and Hope Babbington. Senior Elena Stecko is a promising newcomer well suited to add depth to Trinity's lineup.

In fact, Lappe believes it's important every girl on the team log some match experience. The lessons gained in match competition will only help the Blazers' bid to be competitive in conference.

"The great thing about coaching at Trinity is that I give everybody a chance to play," she said. "Nobody sits on the bench. I know you can learn a lot from sitting on the bench, but you learn a whole lot more from actually participating."

Loyola and St. Ignatius are the top contenders to win the GCAC championship. As long as the Blazers stay focused, Lappe is confident the team can produce a solid campaign.

"We need to practice and can't be intimidated by Loyola or St. Ignatius," she said. "The girls just have to do the best that they can do, that's all I ask."

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