Solid return: Hannah Meyer returns to the lineup for the OPRF girls tennis team this season.File 2010/J.GEIL

Fred Galluzzo seems to have taken a page out of the football handbook. OPRF’s longtime head girls tennis coach held two-a-day practices last week in order to better evaluate his players and prep for the upcoming season.

“We’re ratcheting it up a bit, you might say,” he said during the morning session of a practice/tryout late last week on the courts at OPRF. “We’re not wasting time this season. We’re getting right at it.”

Galluzzo has the time. After 38 years in education, he retired as a guidance counselor at OPRF in June. He’s been involved with both the girls and boys tennis programs at the school for the last 28 years, including nine as head coach of the girls program.

Galluzzo coached the Huskies to a milestone last season as they won their first sectional championship since 2006. He’s optimistic another title is in the cards this year.

“Where our strengths are going to be is still a mixed bag as we sort through things, but I really do think we will be competitive again,” he said.

The Huskies have three of four state qualifiers returning to the lineup this season in Samantha Schafer, Emma Forman and Tess Trinka. Schafer, a junior singles player, finished second at sectionals last season, while the senior Forman paired with the now graduated Ann Ryan for third place in doubles. As a freshman last season, Trinka finished fourth in singles action at sectionals.

Also back and expected to make a run at qualifying for the state tournament includes seniors Hannah Meyer, Lindsay Allen, Alison Zelby, Natalie Rosseau, Laura Brennan and Sofia Gnabasik.

With their experience, Galluzzo anticipates Trinka, Forman and Meyer interchanging between both singles and doubles action during the regular season. But the bulk of the team, he insisted, will be playing doubles for sure.

“If these girls didn’t love playing doubles before, they’re going to have to learn to love playing doubles now,” he said. “It’s going to happen.”

Sarah Nieman, Sophia Pizzo, Jesse Klugman, Natalie Hardwicke and Dominque Walker are a few newbies with potential to make headway this season, according to Galluzzo. Freshman Anna Rossa and Nina Vasie are also on his radar to compete on varsity.

Hinsdale Central, who the Huskies haven’t defeated since the 1994-’95 season, is expected to compete with Lyons Township for the top spot in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference. But Galluzzo is looking to have his team better last season’s fifth place finish and qualify as many individuals for the state tournament as possible.

“I think we can certainly do better in conference than we did last season,” he said. “We have the talent; it’s just a matter of having the chemistry.”

The Huskies begin the season at Evanston Township on Tuesday. They’ll host Downers Grove South on Aug. 30 in their home opener.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...