With familiar faces returning to the roster and a familiar face now on the sidelines, the Tunkhannock Area girls tennis team will be looking to make some noise this season in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
The Lady Tigers finished last season with a 5-8 record, something that new head coach Justin Muthler is hopeful to turn around into a .500 campaign and berth in the playoffs.
“That’s definitely the initial goal,” Muthler said. “I think we definitely have the capability of making the playoffs, and I’m really excited to take over this program. Coach (John) Grey did a good job the last couple of years and I think I can continue to move it forward in the right direction.”
Muthler, who has been the head coach of the Tunkhannock boys program for the past two seasons, graduated from Misericordia University in 2011 and served as the university’s head men’s and women’s tennis coach for three years.
He spent much of the fall helping as an assistant for the girls team, making this year’s transition a seamless one.
And with 12 seniors and 24 players overall on the team, there will certainly be a lot to work with as the season wears on.
“We had open court for most of the summer, so I was able to have additional time coaching them before we got started,” Muthler said. “We’re really deep in terms of numbers and the quality of girls that we have will only help improve them at practice. Things will be competitive and they’ll be able to play against each other to get ready for the matches. They’ll be pushed to get in the starting lineup and I’ll have some rotating pieces to be able to tinker with as the season moves forward.”
Since several returning players have varsity experience under their belt, Muthler will be able to spend the first week of practice in helping out some of the underclassmen get up to speed.
“Some of the varsity players have earned their spot so to speak, so we’re able to get the newer players learning the game while the more experienced players got on the court to play against each other,” Muthler added. “I hope that we’ll be able to learn my doubles philosophy this week and improve upon that throughout the year. We’re trying to get them to win more points and be more aggressive, which is something some of them aren’t used to playing. It’s a little bit of an adjustment period, but the girls have been receptive to being coached about it.”
And though girls tennis is one of the first fall sports to kick off its season, the Lady Tigers might be slightly more conditioned for their first match on Monday.
Because of a rain storm that hit Wyoming County several weeks ago, one side of the fence that lines the back of Tunkhannock’s tennis courts was damaged and needed to come down.
The fence is slated to be replaced today, though no hurry is necessary, since Tunkhannock will be on the road for its first two matches to open the season.
“You never know if it’ll help,” Muthler said with a laugh.
Joe Reese, who assisted Muthler for the boys team in the spring, will also be an assistant coach for the girls’ squad this year.
Seniors Autumn Grey, Leah Rome, Hannah Chesner, RaeAnne Carpenter, Naeomie Strohl, Angelique Antenucci, Erin Kelly, Alex Arndt, Melinda Singh, Elaine Lance, Emma Rushworth, Anika Sehne and Olivia Heise; juniors Kayla Gavek; sophomores Bridget Frame, Ava Kidd, Alyssa Hettesheimer and Christine Decresenza; and freshmen Jillian Landon, Megan Keiser, Jenna Laughinghouse, Ashley Kenia and Carla Palmer.
Aug. 21, at Crestwood, 4 p.m.
Aug. 23, at Wyoming Valley West, 4 p.m.
Aug. 25, Coughlin, 4 p.m.
Aug. 29, at Wyoming Area, 4 p.m.
Aug. 31, Berwick, 4 p.m.
Sept. 5, Wyoming Seminary, 4 p.m.
Sept. 7, at MMI Prep, 4 p.m.
Sept. 9, Towanda, 4 p.m.
Sept. 11, at GAR, 4 p.m.
Sept. 13, at Hazleton Area, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15, Pittston Area, 4 p.m.
Sept. 18, Hanover Area, 4 p.m.
Sept. 20, Dallas, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22, Holy Redeemer, 4 p.m.