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Decatur tennis teams rely on vets, new players to fill lineup

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Mar 22, 2018
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli Stephen Decatur junior Grace Beres will play in the No. 1 singles spot this season. Moving up in the lineup is “exciting and a lot more challenging,” she said. “I think it will be more of like a growing year so I’m just looking to improve my serve and ground strokes and, for the team, I’m hoping we can have a winning season. It should be a pretty fun year.”

(March 23, 2018) Both Stephen Decatur girls’ and boys’ tennis teams graduated a good chunk of their starting lineups, so this year some veterans will move up the ladder and new players will step in to fill other spots.

The Decatur girls’ squad finished with an 8-5 record last year. The five Seahawks who left were starters.

Coach Jamie Greenwood has 12 players on his roster this season. Five are veterans.

“Experience-wise, we’re pretty young. It’s going to be kind of a rebuilding year for us,” he said. “Their work ethic is their strength. They’re all willing to work hard. They’re nice girls and they have good attitudes.”

So far, Greenwood said the players are improving, but there is still much work to do. The rainy weather has not been helpful.

It is typically windy at the Berlin high school during the season, so practicing in the windy conditions the last few weeks has been beneficial.

Junior Grace Beres will play in the No. 1 singles spot. Last year Beres competed mostly at fourth singles and sometimes in the No. 3 spot, she said.

Moving up in the lineup is “exciting and a lot more challenging,” she said.

“I think it will be more of like a growing year, so I’m just looking to improve my serve and ground strokes and, for the team, I’m hoping we can have a winning season,” Beres said. “It should be a pretty fun year.”

This is her third year as a member of the squad and Beres said she is using her experience to assist her teammates.

“I’m definitely helping the girls who haven’t played a lot. I’m working on skills and if they’re holding the racket wrong I’ll correct their grip, and definitely [teaching] them about the game,” she said. “I’ve definitely seen improvement. We have a lot of new faces and everybody is getting along well.”

Senior Jessie Lupiwok has been on the team for four years. She will play second singles this season.

Both girls will also play doubles as well.

“Doubles is my favorite, but I played a lot of singles too,” she said. “My goal is to have as much fun as I can, because it’s my last year. I’ve had fun playing the last three years and being able to play higher up in the lineup is already one of my accomplishments.”

Lupiwok has also been helping the new players.

“A lot of girls are asking me my different techniques that I’ve learned from all the other people that came through [the program],” she said. “We have a lot of new members this year [and they] are athletic and getting the hang of it really quick.”

Greenwood, now in his 10th season leading the Lady Seahawks, said both girls have done a nice job working with the new players and have been good instructors.

The new players, he added, have potential.

“In the mid-tier of teams, I think we’ll be able to compete. I think we can play well against six of the eight schools,” he said. “I want to be competitive in all of our matches and build for next year.”

The boys’ team finished with a 7-6 record in 2017. Four of the five seniors who graduated were full-time starters.

This year, Coach Steve Berquist has 10 players on his roster and only four are returners.

“Our top seeds should carry us. They’ll be playing both singles and doubles,” Berquist said. “They’ve gotten a lot better since last year.”

Junior Trevor Hayes, who has been a member of the team for two seasons, will step into the No. 1 spot. Last year he played No. 4 singles.

“It’s exciting, but also nerve-racking at the same time, knowing that you’re kind of really representing your team, but I think I’ll do pretty well this season,” he said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work playing in tournaments over the summer, so that’s been helping my skills improve. I think I can give some tips to some of the players on the team.”

Hayes said his goal is to be a more consistent server and strengthen his backhand. The team is coming along pretty well, he said, and the new players are learning fast.

Berquist, who is in his 10th season coaching the boys’ squad, said the work Hayes put in has paid off. Junior Jonathan Petito trained in the offseason as well and has also improved, Berquist said.

“[Hayes’] game has tripled as far as skillset and knowledge,” Berquist said. “Jonathan worked hard in the offseason and has gotten better too.”

Petito will play in the second singles spot.

“I’m looking forward to the season, being the No. 2 seed behind Trevor and playing some doubles as well. It’s fun playing doubles,” Petito said.

His goal is to win more singles matches this year.

“I feel like I did OK in doubles last year, but singles I didn’t do the best, especially against the harder teams like Parkside, Bennett and Worcester Prep,” he said. “I want to beat at least one of them.”

This is Petito’s third year competing for Decatur and he has used his experience to help the new players.

“Some of them didn’t know the rules, so we had to teach them,” he said. “They’re coming along. Some of them couldn’t hit over the net when they first got here and now they can easily score points.”

Berquist said both players have stepped up as leaders and have done a good job helping their teammates.

“They’re dedicated to getting better and having a good team,” he said. “They’re setting good examples for everyone.”

Senior Frankie Nanna is also back to compete and will play in the third singles spot.

Sophomore Austin Marple was a member of the school’s unified tennis team last year, but practiced with the varsity squad. He has joined the varsity team this year along with juniors Aaron Campbell and Omar Omar, and freshman Colin Porter, all of whom are doing well, Berquist said.

“The new guys are about even,” Berquist said. “I’ll probably try different people at No. 4 [singles].”

Berquist said he would like the team to finish above .500 and get at least one win over its strongest competition – James M. Bennett, Parkside and Worcester Prep.

“I think we’re ahead of where we were last year,” Berquist said. “Some of the kids have been with me a couple years now, so they’re more experienced and just the natural maturation.”

Former Decatur tennis player, Jonathan Hastings, who competed for Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, will assist Berquist this season.

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