Tigers hope to keep it going

Hollidaysburg has been on top of the area high school girls tennis scene the last five seasons, and it has a chance to continue its reign in 2014.

The regular season for PIAA girls tennis officially begins today, and the Lady Tigers return seven starters from last year’s team, which won its fifth straight District 6 Class AAA team championship and also extended its regular-season winning streak to 83.

The top returners for Hollidaysburg are senior Sierra Cobler, who was an Altoona Mirror first-team all-star last year with an 18-0 regular-season singles record, and junior Maisie Supp, a 2013 Mirror second-teamer.

Altoona appears to be in position to give Hollidaysburg a battle again with Lauren Lucas returning for her senior season. Lucas was the District 6 Class AAA singles runner-up and a doubles champion as a junior. She is a two-time Mirror first-team all-star. The Lady Lions also return four other starters and have more than 30 players on the roster.

In Class AA, Central Cambria begins its first season as a program but isn’t your typical first-year program. The Lady Red Devils have the last two District 6 Class AA singles champions on their roster in junior Hannah Swope (2012 champ) and Kourtney Cavalier (2013 champ).

Central Cambria will compete in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference with the likes of Bishop Guilfoyle and Bedford, which returns sophomore Allison Shuke, a Mirror second-team all-star last year.

Central, Tyrone and Huntingdon all compete in the Mountain League, and Tyrone senior Ana Hollen and Central senior Mikaela McGraw are both former Mirror second-team all-stars.

Senior Jen Carthew, who finished as the District 5 singles runner-up last year, returns for Chestnut Ridge.

The following is a capsule look at the area teams:


Coach: Eric Hovan, 18th season

Last year’s record: 11-4

League: None

Returning starters: Lauren Lucas, sr.; Kayla Letscher, sr.; Kiersten Wills, sr.; Julia Nagle, jr.; Maddie Seidel, jr.

Other returnees: Laura Scott, sr.; Haley Walker, sr.; Maryssa Brandt, jr.; Angelica Bryan, jr.; Rio Grassmyer, jr.; Abby Orr, jr.; Elyse Saylor, jr.; Taylor Stoudnour, jr.; Paris Haugh, jr.; Rachel Billetter, soph.; Natalie Johnson, soph.; Trena Johnson, soph.; Maura Kelly, soph.; Zhorea McAnuff, soph.; Paige Paris, soph.; Kailyn Pater, soph.; Malia Schimminger, soph.

Newcomers: Jordan McCormick, sr.; Morgan Paris, jr.; Anna Quirin, jr.; Kim Nguyen, soph.; Kayley Burke, fr.; Abigail Frank, fr.; Lindsey Hallinan, fr.; Ava Kline, fr.; Maura Skelley, fr.; Emma Smelley, fr.; Jessica Stevens, fr.; Jasmine VonColln, fr.

Strengths: “We feel very good about our five returning starters starting with our No. 1 player Lauren Lucas. Lauren has worked extremely hard in the offseason, and we look forward to a great season out of her. Kayla Letscher, Kiersten Wills, Julia Nagle and Maddie Seidel all played varsity doubles and really improved as the season went on. We are very excited about some of the new girls who have joined the team the past two years. They are very good athletes and are improving their tennis skills. They are going to be a big part of our team this year and beyond.”

Concerns: “We have 39 girls involved in our tennis team this season, so my main concern is trying to get enough practice and match play for them all. We have to replace two seniors (Marina Dixon and Emilee Hollingsworth) who were four-year starters for us. We have some very talented freshmen and some returning players who will be in the mix for those spots. We really like our depth, but many of them haven’t played in a ton of matches over their tennis careers.”

Overall outlook: “The coaches are really looking forward to the season. They have been working hard and have a tremendous attitude. We feel good about our returning starters and love the potential of the kids looking to fill some varsity openings. We need to continue to improve daily if we hope to reach our goal of a team district championship.”

Assistant coaches: Kirsten Stratton, Adam Burget (volunteer), Susan Nardone (volunteer)


Coach: Katrina Ackley, second season

Career record: 8-10

Last year’s record: 8-10

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Allison Shuke, soph.; Lori Harman, jr.; Hannah Brown, jr.; Megan Moorhead, sr.; Hannah Elyard, sr.; Megan Wertz, sr.

Other returnees: Mackenzie Mohr, jr.; Bella Zanoni, soph.; Madison Howard, jr.; Ashley Miller, soph.; Jessica Bauer, jr.; Emily LaMarche, jr.; Alexa Weyant, jr.; Olivia Miller, soph.

Newcomers: Olivia Ackley, fr.; Jordan Ruhlman, soph.; Lauren Ooghe, soph.; Alyssa LaMarche, soph.; Kaitlyn Horne, soph.; Paula Davis, fr.; Skye Metzner, sr.; Maggie Howsare, fr.

Strengths: “We have a lot of talent – both in returning and new players with a lot of experience.”

Concerns: “To keep playing consistently through a fast-paced season.”

Overall outlook: “This season should be an improvement over last season. The lineup has a lot of returning talent and several new talented players. It is an exciting year for Bedford girls tennis.”

Assistant coach: Richard Ackley

Bishop Guilfoyle

Coach: Barb Fiore, fifth season

Career record: 29-38

Last year’s record: 7-6

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Returning starters: Brayley Lewis, jr.; Ashton Truby, sr.; Ally Stevens, jr.; Ally Bare, jr.

Other returnees: Mary Kate Fochler, jr.; Jackie Servello, jr.; Kaitlin Altiero, jr.

Newcomers: Emily Stevens, fr.; Drake Patel, jr.; Adrian Finochio, fr.; Danielle Rudolf, sr.

Strengths: “Experience is our strength this year. We have many capable players to fill the ladder and spill over. They have been working on their skills over the summer, and I’m sure it will show this season.”

Concerns: “Getting everyone good playing time at the matches.”

Overall outlook: “I think we have a solid team that is willing to work hard and have fun.”

Assistant coach: Mary Hogan


Coach: John Riley, eighth season

Career record: 52-48

Last year’s record: 9-6

League: Mountain League

Returning starters: Mikaela McGraw, sr.; Adrienne Clark, jr.; Meggie Stern, soph.

Other returnees: Rachel Brumbaugh, sr.; Bridget McCready, sr.; Ellie King, soph.; Hailey Ritchey, soph.; Ashley Josapak, soph.

Newcomers: Lexie Wyandt, jr.; Lauren Kensinger, soph.; Yvonne Longenecker, fr.; Eva Rhule, fr.; Madison Eberlin, fr.

Strengths: “Hard-working athletic group of girls who are working hard to improve all aspects of their tennis games. We return two singles starters (Nos. 1 and 5) from last year’s team. We return our No. 1 player, Mikaela McGraw, who will be relied on heavily for her senior leadership.”

Concerns: “We graduated three singles starters from last year’s team (Nos. 2, 3 and 4). We will be a very inexperienced team at the singles positions early on. Also, trying to find the right combinations for doubles is difficult with the limited amount of preseason practice time that we have.”

Overall outlook: “Hopefully, once the new girls gain experience and the team gains consistency, the team will be very competitive within our league and against other AA schools. Hopefully, we will be in the mix for another Mountain League title and qualify for the district team playoffs.”

Assistant coach: Wade Heuston (volunteer)

Central Cambria

Coach: Janis Stratton, first year

Career record: 0-0

Last year’s record: No team

League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference

Roster: Kayla Anna, sr.; Gina Bianucci, sr.; Emmy Stevens, sr.; Hannah Devan, jr.; Hannah Swope, jr.; Kourtney Cavalier, soph.; Sarah Segear, soph.; Kaity Hockenberry, soph.; Liza Brady, fr.; Kate Griffith, fr.; Madison Shirk, fr.; Izzy Tremel, fr.; Emmy Sikora, fr.

Strengths: “Although we are just beginning to form a team, a few of our players have had experience by way of the Ebensburg Tennis Center and tournament play. Sophomore Kourtney Cavalier was named Altoona Mirror Athlete of the Week (last season for winning the District 6 Class AA singles championship).”

Concerns: “We have no experience at playing as a team. Many of our team members have never played a competitive match, either singles or doubles.”

Overall outlook: “We hope to be competitive within our league.”

Assistant coaches: Kim Cavalier, Lisa Swope

Chestnut Ridge

Coach: Becky Musselman, 10th season

Last year’s record: 6-8

Returning starters: Jen Carthew, sr.; Emaleigh Mowry, jr.; Brianna Mowry, soph.

Other returnees: Abby Barnes, sr.; Alexis Claycomb, soph.; Courtney Claycomb, soph.; Keisha Fleegle, soph.; Dedra Hellegass, soph.

Newcomers: Shawna McTonic, sr.; Amanda Swain, jr.; Shania Bowser, soph.; Vanessa Hyde, fr.; Payton Whysong, fr.

Overall outlook: “We have a lot of young players, but they are all working hard at practice. I’m looking forward to this coming season.”

Assistant coaches: Erin Musselman (volunteer), Val Carthew (volunteer)


Coach: Brian Denis, 13th season

Career record: 306-75

Last year’s record: 19-1

League: None

Returning starters: Maisie Supp, jr.; Sierra Cobler, sr.; Alyssa Pheasant, sr.; Elyse Smilnak, sr.; Aly Baum, jr.; Annie Ruggles, jr.; Helen Rose, soph.

Other returnees: Kacie Emeigh, jr.; Kaylie Gallagher, sr.; Zaina Younes, soph.; Emma Greenland, jr.

Newcomers: Vicky Galanti, sr.; Veronica Helsel, fr.; Chloe Love, fr.; Sam Bilofsky, fr.; Sophira Morris, fr.

Strengths: “We have six of our top seven players back so most everyone will be playing in similar positions as last year. The girls have had a great attitude thus far and are working hard and are very eager to learn and improve. Experience in big matches that past few years should help us in our tougher matches. The camaraderie on this team is great, as the girls really want to see each other succeed.”

Concerns: “We need some kids to step up and take over the leadership roles as well as the No. 1 position left by District 6-AAA singles champion Marissa Lanzel, who graduated. We have a tougher schedule this year with quite a bit of travel, including a weekend trip to Erie to face two-time defending state champion Mercyhurst Prep.”

Overall outlook: “Every season it seems almost impossible to surpass the success that we have had the past several years, but once again, that is our goal. We are hoping to keep our 83-match regular-season winning streak alive, as well as our ultimate goal of winning our sixth straight District (6-AAA) team championship. We knew every time we step on the court we are going to get the opponent’s very best, so hopefully we will be peaking at the right time come playoff time.”

Assistant coach: Ed Bettwy (volunteer)


Coach: Alan Secrest, seventh season

Career record: 28-62

Last year’s record: 4-8

League: Mountain League

Returnees: Amanda Gaugler, jr.; Kendra Hess, sr.; Jasmine Weyant, sr.; Hannah Foust, jr.; Kallie Honstine, soph.

Newcomers: Mackenzie Miller, jr.; Mariah Forshey, jr.; Tiara Hood, jr.; Sadie Johnson, fr.; Miranda Habbershon, fr.; Reagan McKim, fr.; Hannah Park, fr.; Paigh Hollenbaugh, fr.; Ashley Frew, fr.; Tara Mellott, fr.

Overall outlook: “This is a rebuilding year with many new players out for the first team. Amanda Gaugler returns with the best record form the last two years. She will be called on for singles and doubles at the No. 1 spot. The rest of the team is wide-open, and there will probably be many changes throughout the season as the players gain strengths at the singles spots and No. 2 doubles position. I am hoping for a good year of consistent improvement, but we will try and develop each week to become stronger as the season goes on. Back from last year are seniors Kendra Hess and Jasmine Weyant, and both will playing doubles and singles. Jasmine was able to compete at district doubles last year, so we expect good things from her. Hannah Foust, another junior, returns to help at doubles, and Kallie Honstine, a sophomore this season, struggled with an injury at the end of the season last year and hopes to be in both the singles and doubles lineup.”

Assistant coach: Rick Lombard


Coach: Randy Irvin, second season

Career record: 8-33

Last year’s record: 8-9

League: Mountain League

Returning starters: Paige Padula, sr.; Shannon Gearhart, sr.; Ana Hollen, sr.; Marlena Wagner, jr.

Other returnees: Natalie Dumm, sr.; Courtney Kurtz, sr.; Hannah Klesius, jr.

Newcomers: Ana Raabe, soph.; Ali Dumin, fr.; Tina Hollen, fr.

Strengths: “We have four strong experienced returning players. We have seven players returning that have started in a match in high school tennis. The three new players are doing very well, and we have a very athletic team.”

Concerns: “That we stay healthy all season because last year we had to deal with a lot of injuries.”

Overall outlook: “We have a touch schedule, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Assistant coaches: None