WVC girls tennis season opens with a jolt

By Ross Turetsky - For Times Leader

Another high school girls tennis season opened Monday in the Wyoming Valley Conference. And one of the biggest questions was if anyone could end the winning streak of three-time champ Hazleton Area.

Wyoming Seminary quickly provided an answer.

The host Blue Knights knocked off the Cougars 4-1 as Emily Urbanski and Shailee winning in singles play and the teams of Dominica Delayo/Christina Cikowski and Paige Parsons/Becca Hammerman won in doubles.

Katie Pavlick’s Cougars squad has been the dominant force in the conference for a while now, as last year’s 14-0 campaign was the team’s second straight undefeated season.

The Cougars racked up plenty of accomplishments to go along with another conference championship. Departing senior standout Stephanie Mazurek won a District 2/4 singles title for the first time in the program’s history on top of helping earn the team District 2/4 title for the first time in school history and reaching the state playoffs.

This year’s Hazleton Area squad will return a number of key players, such as Lily Nowak, Alyssa Mazurek, Sophia Sebo and Sydney Shoemaker. Nowak won her match at No. 1 singles on Monday.

“We graduated five seniors, three of which were our top athletes, but thankfully we still have experienced players to rely on this season,” said Pavlick, who is in her third season leading the team. “We are looking to build our team up for the future with a fair amount of sophomores and juniors joining us. I have high expectations for all my players. I am looking forward to a great 2018 season.”

As for Wyoming Seminary, coach Allison Joanlanne’s team went 11-2 record a year ago, advancing to the semifinals of the district playoffs.

Although the program lost two key upperclassmen in Meghna Melkote and Abby Capin, many of their top players are coming back this season with the likes of Nicole Joanlanne, Urbanski and Desai being joined on the court by key newcomer Delayo.

“Our goal is always to win team districts. Our tough teams to beat are Holy Redeemer and Hazleton,” Allison Joanlanne said.

Another top contender is Joe Suchocki’s Holy Redeemer Royals. The Royals are coming off of a stellar 12-1 playoff campaign and have key starters in singles play returning in Cameron Cassetori, Tea Amerise and Cassie Benderavich, to go along with Sonal Garg’s valuable experience in doubles play.

The Wyoming Valley Conference will see lots of solid teams vying to make waves during the new season, as teams such as Wyoming Area, Dallas, Berwick, Pittston Area and Tunkhannock are all winning teams from a year ago who look to contend and move up in the standings this year.

Wyoming Area has a standout junior to lookout for in 2018 in Brianna Pizzano, who will look to win her second straight district title in singles play.

Holy Redeemer 4,

Wyoming Area 1

Brianna Pizzano won the top singles match to post the only win for the Warriors, but the Royals won all the others.

Tea Amerise at No. 2 singles and Cassie Benderavich at No. 3 combined to give up just one game in their victories.

Tunkhannock 4,

MMI Prep 1

Jenna Laughinghouse took a victory at No. 2 singles, Megan Keiser won at No. 3 and the Tigers swept doubles play while storming to victory.

MMI Prep’s Katharine Pints won the top singles match.

Dallas 5, Crestwood 0

Sarah Stallard took a 6-0, 6-1 victory in the top singles match and the Mountaineers swept to victory.

Caroline Stallard and Reese Lewandowski combined for a 6-1, 6-0 win in the top doubles match.

Wyoming Valley West 3, GAR 2

Anabel Gifoli won the first singles match, Claire Capin took the No. 2 match when her opponent couldn’t go on and the Spartans pulled out a tight victory at Hamilton Park.

Coughlin 5, Hanover Area 0

Coughlin juniors Rachel Bath and Chabee Patel picked up their first career singles victories for the Crusaders.

Wyoming Seminary 4, Hazleton Area 1

SINGLES — 1. Lily Nowak (HAZ) def. Nicole Joanlanne 6-2, 6-3; 2. Emily Urbanski (WS) def.Alyssa Mazurek 6-2, 6-3; 3. Shailee Desai (WS) def. Sophia Sebo 6-2, 6-2

DOUBLES — 1. Dominica Delayo/Christina Cikowski (WS) def. Sydney Shoemaker/Maddie Terracino 6-0, 6-0; 2. Paige Parsons/Becca Hammerman (WS) def. Anjolina Hsiao/Brianna Crawford 6-0, 6-0

Holy Redeemer 4, Wyoming Area 1

SINGLES — 1. Brianna Pisano (WA) def. Camryn Cassetori 6-1, 6-0; 2. Tea Amerise (HR) def. Bella Scappaticci 6-1, 6-0; 3. Cassie Benderavich (HR) def. Mackenzie Goyne 6-0, 6-0

DOUBLES — 1. Sonal Garg/Carissa Benderavich (HR) def. Abagail Grendoll/Stephanie Palovchak 6-1, 6-1; 2. Jenna Biago/Vanessa Pinto (HR) def. Megan Askew/Cara Yorina 6-0, 6-1

Tunkhannock 4, MMI Prep 1

SINGLES — 1. Katharine Pints (MMI) def. Jillian Landon 6-2, 6-2; 2. Jenna Laughinghouse (TUN) def. Lindsay Braunstein 6-3 6-1; 3. Megan Keiser (TUN) def. Emily Ankicwicz 6-0, 6-3

DOUBLES — 1. Naomi Strohl/Emily Martin (TUN) def. Emily Ryan/Irene Altmiller 6-2, 6-1; 2. Allysa Hettesheimer/Ashley Kenia (TUN) won by default

Dallas 5, Tunkhannock 0

SINGLES — 1. Sarah Stallard (DAL) def. Breena Kravchek 6-0, 6-1; 2. Rylie Bay (DAL) def. Rachel McFarland 6-1, 6-4; 3. Morgan Landau (DAL) def. Madison Weiss 6-1, 6-1

DOUBLES — 1. Caroline Stallard/Reese Lewandowski (DAL) def. Bethany Newell/Natalie Klimek 6-1, 6-0; 2. Elisabeth Mead/Gabby Avila (DAL) def. Shannon Griffiths/Megan McLaughlin 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, (10-8)

Wyoming Valley West 3, GAR 2

SINGLES — 1. Anabel Gifoli (WVW) def. Melanie Garcia 6-1, 6-1; 2. Claire Capin (WVW) def. Jazmin Calva 4-0 (retired); 3. Michelle Tapia (GAR) def. Macy Raskiewicz 6-1, 6-3

DOUBLES — 1. Julia Franks/Morgan Shedletsky (WVW) def. Samantha Rodriquez/Magaly Martinez 7-6 (7-1), 6-3; 2. Yasmin Guzman/Miracle Ruiz (GAR) def. Joann Zambito/Mollie McFarland 6-0, 6-0

Coughlin 5, Hanover Area 0

SINGLES — 1. Rachel Bath (COU) def. Kaitlyn Downey, 6-2, 6-2; 2. Sydney Daley (COU) def. Taylor Gavlick, 6-1, 6-1; 3. Chabee Patel (COU) def. Karlee Yuscavage, 6-4, 6-2

DOUBLES — 1. Marilyn Ogof/Gianna Valenti (COU) def. Deanna Wadzin/Ally Richards, 6-4, 6-0; 2. Emma Cox/Hailey McMullen (COU) def. Sydney Kordek/Alexandra Eshleman, 6-0, 7-5




Coach: Trinell Bull (34th season)

2017 record: 5-9

Home courts: Berwick High School Tennis Court

Key returning players: Sydney Lloyd (Jr., team captain and top singles player this season), Kelsey Caladie (Jr.), Keightlynn Kishbaugh, Ellie Kozak, Genevieze Johnson, Gianna Miller (all sophomores)

Key losses: Isabella Arndt (last season’s top singles player and team captain), Skyla Gordon

Coach’s outlook: “With no seniors on this year’s team, we hope our underclassmen step up to the challenge this season and we can be very competitive. We have less experience then the other teams but we have some good younger players in need of more competitive play experience. We hope they can develop for us and we can steadily improve as the season progresses. Last year we just missed the playoffs, so we hope we can get there this season. After losing our top player from last year, Isabella Arndt, we have a solid junior in Sydney Lloyd who is our team captain and will be our top singles player this year. She’s a steady and talented player who is a good leader and competitor. We are very excited for this season to start.”


Coach: Joe Pugliese (8th season)

2017 record: 9-4 (lost to Holy Cross in 1st round of district playoffs)

Home courts: Dallas High School

Key returning players: Sarah Stallard, Morgan Landau, Reese Lewandowski

Key losses: Hannah Bonk, Mikayla Reynolds

Coach’s outlook: “I have three returning starters with three other girls that were close to starting last season. The girls put in some work over the summer to improve their game. I don’t have any superstars but I have good depth. I hope to return to the playoffs and advance this year.”


Coach: Raphael Cooper (6th season)

2017 record: 5-8

Home courts: Kirby Park

Key returning players: Michelle Tapia, Jazmin Calva, Samantha Rodriguez, Magaly Martinez, Jennifer Aguilar, Yasmin Guzman, Melanie Garcia Morel-(key new player)

Key losses: Dominique Cropp (last season’s number one player on the team)

Coach’s outlook: “It is GAR’s last year as a team, as we will combine schools in Wilkes-Barre. GAR has never made playoffs ever. It would be a great way to finish this year and experience with this Senior class that has shown progress every year. We have grown exponentially in wins and sizes. It would be great for this family to get to playoffs but other than that it is important we enjoy this final ride together.”

Hanover Area

Coach: Terry Schnee (32nd season)

2017 record: 0-13

Home courts: Hanover Area High School

Key returning players: Kaitlyn Downey (Soph., top singles player), Deanna Wadzin, Taylor Gavlick (both Senior Starters), Karlee Yuskavage-(key new player)

Key losses: Bridget Hannon, Britney Steininger

Coach’s outlook: “We are looking forward to a more competitive season and an improved win-loss record, having lost just two starters to graduation. This year’s squad has a nice balance of veteran seniors, experienced sophomores and juniors, and several promising freshmen.”

Holy Redeemer

Coach: Joe Suchocki (8th season)

2017 record: 12-1

Home courts: Kirby Park

Key returning players: Cameron Cassetori, Tea Amerise, Cassie Benderavich, Sonal Garg, Jenna Biago, Jordan Stochala, Vanessa Pinto, Sarah Stettler, Carissa Benderavich

Key losses: Lauren LaMarca, Emily Evans, Lindsey Hoover

Coach’s outlook: “We should have a good starting singles lineup with Cameron, Tea, and Cassie. With the exception of Sonal, the rest of the team has no varsity experience so doubles will be a work in progress. We should do well and hopefully make the playoffs.”

MMI Prep

Coach: Timothy Garvey

2017 record: 4-9

Home courts: Ridge Street courts, Freeland


Coach: Justin Muthler (2nd season)

2017 record: 9-4 (advanced to the playoffs)

Home courts: Tunkhannock Area High School Tennis Courts

Key returning players: Jillian Landon

Key losses: Autumn Grey, Leah Rome, RaeAnne Carpenter, (along with nine other Seniors)

Coach’s outlook: “We would like to be competitive in our matches while getting our players experience. All of the teams will be difficult with so many new girls contributing to the starting lineup.”

Wyoming Area

Coach: Bill Roberts (1st season)

2017 record: 7-6 (Advanced to the second round of team playoffs)

Home courts: Martin Mattei Middle School in Pittston Area

Key returning players: Brianna Pizzano (top singles player), Bella Scappaticci (both juniors), Stephanie Palovchak, Megan Askew, Abigail Drendal, Mackenzie Goyne

Key losses: Allison Lampman, Emily Cheskiewicz

Coach’s outlook: “It’s a rebuilding year even though we have two key players, Pizzano and Scappaticci, which is an advantage. A good year would be to contend for team playoffs but it’s going to be a lot tougher than last year. However, our new talent on the court looks very promising. Brianna Pizzano, who won the singles district title last year, is looking very sharp and will have a good chance to contend for the district championship for the second year in a row.”

Wyoming Seminary

Coach: Allison Joanlanne (7th season)

2017 record: 11-2 (Advanced to the semi-finals in district playoffs)

Home courts: Lull Tennis Center

Key returning players: Nicole Joanlanne, Emily Urbanski, Shailee Desai, Dominica Delayo-(key new player)

Key losses: Meghna Melkote, Abby Capin

Coach’s outlook: “Our goal is always to win team districts. Our tough teams to beat are Holy Redeemer and Hazleton.”



Coach: Paul Gerrity (1st season)

2017 record: 3-10

Home courts: Plains Township Municipal Park on Clark Lane

Key returning players: Marilyn Ogof, Gianna Valenti, Rachel Bath, Sydney Daley, Chabee Patel (all starters)

Key losses: Kira Meager (top player from last season)

Coach’s outlook: “I’m really enjoying working with these girls so far. We lack the real elite type of number one player that some teams have, and anytime we have an injury or illness it will force a player into the starting lineup who is completely new to tennis. But the top seven girls as a group have similar ability as teams I’ve coached that won seven or eight matches and challenged for a district playoff berth. If we can manage to keep our lineup intact for the next few weeks, there is enough talent here to have a significant improvement from last season.”


Coach: Scott Lenio (21st season)

2017 record: 1-12

Home courts: Wright Township Park

Key returning players: Rachel McFarland, Breena Kravchick, Natalie Klimek, Korina Cheng, Bethany Newel, Hannah Sobolewski, Shannon Griffiths, Meghan McClaughlin, Shannon Griffiths, Megan McLaughlin-(two key newcomers)

Key losses: Abby Bielecki, Abby Glynn, Chloe Lacoste

Coach’s outlook: “The team lost three starters from last year. We have almost thirty girls out for the team. We have all new starters in doubles and in one and three singles. The lineup will change as year goes on as the girls challenge one another for starting positions.”

Hazleton Area

Coach: Katie Pavlick (3rd season)

2017 record: 14-0 (2nd consecutive year undefeated and 3rd consecutive year as WVC champions. Team District 2/4 Champion- first in school history)

Home courts: Hazleton Area High School Tennis Courts

Key returning players: Lily Nowak, Alyssa Mazurek, Sophia Sebo, Sydney Shoemaker, Maddie Terracino, Nina Zola-(two key newcomers)

Key losses: Stephanie Mazurek, Sofia Losen, Adrianna Bohman

Coach’s outlook: “I am honored to be coaching at Hazleton Area High School for the third year in a row alongside my assistant Christine Dugan. We graduated five seniors, three of which were our top athletes, but thankfully still have experienced players to rely on this season. We are looking to build our team up for the future with a fair amount of sophomores and juniors joining us. I have high expectations for all my players. The girls had an outstanding season winning the WVC for the third year in a row and making Hazleton Area High School history by becoming the first ever girls (or boys) tennis team to win Districts and advance to states. I am looking forward to a great 2018 season!”

Pittston Area

Coach: John Connors (3rd season)

2017 record: 8-4 (advanced to the playoffs)

Home courts: Martin Mattei Middle School in Pittston

Key returning players: Abby Connors, Kaitlyn Connors, Emily Kraser, Julia Zambetti

Key losses: Charity McLeod, Madison Stanton

Coach’s outlook: “We hope to at least have a similar record to last year, and to advance further in districts than last year.”

Wyoming Valley West

Coach: Jim Zimmerman (23rd season)

2017 record: 4-9

Home courts: Hamilton Park in Kingston

Key returning players: Anabel Gifoli, Macey Raskiewicz, Kaylei Sahonick, Julia Franks, Morgan Shedletsky, Claire Capin

Key losses: Madisen Jastremski

Coach’s outlook: “We are getting better and should be able to improve on our record from the previous years.”


By Ross Turetsky

For Times Leader

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @ TLSports

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @ TLSports