Weekly Feature



2017-04-19 / Sports

Sacred Heart girls tennis team dominates Mercy in season opener

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

Sacred Heart’s girls tennis team, last year’s Monsignor Martin Association regular-season champions with a 9-1 record, opened the 2017 season with a decisive 5-0 win over Mount Mercy at Chestnut Ridge Park April 5.

Junior Mary Burns, last year’s starter at second/third singles, moves up to first singles and won 6-1, 6-1.

“Mary is very steady,” Sharks coach Nancy Wingerter said. “She has a great serve. She played first doubles as a freshman so she has good volley skills as well. She also trains hard.”

Sophomore Fiona Murphy, junior Isabella Panepinto and freshman Abigail Pierce are in the mix to compete at second or third singles due to having comparable skills, Wingerter said. Murphy played doubles/ third singles last year and played second singles against Mercy, winning 6-0, 6-0. Pierce earned a 6-0, 6-1 victory at third singles.

Senior Skylar Merrell and junior Marie Ferrick start at first doubles. Last spring Ferrick played first doubles and Merrell played second doubles.

Wingerter said Merrell and Ferrick’s styles complement each other well.

“Skylar is aggressive and has great net play, and Marie is very steady and is better at the baseline,” Wingerter said.

Merrell is a team captain, along with the second doubles team of seniors Rebecca Grey and Julia Bartels.

“Rebecca has improved a lot from last year and is very comfortable at the net and has a nice serve,” Wingerter said. “Julia knows the game well.”

Panepinto is also capable of playing doubles with Grey.

Returning junior Sabrina Passalacqua will also contribute at doubles.

Against Mercy, Merrell and Ferrick won 6-1, 6-0 at first doubles and Grey and Bartels won 6-0, 6-0 at second doubles. Merrell and Ferrick competed with different partners in doubles at All-Catholics last spring.

Sophomore Emily Kase is also another returning player.

The team picked up eight new players: junior Claire Beecher; sophomores Sophia Doyle and Grace Walter; and freshmen Pierce, Abigail Bisson, Madalyn Cardillo, Ava Meller and Morgan Vance.

Wingerter said it will be a battle between Sacred Heart, Nardin and Buffalo Seminary and said her team needs to stay focused and work hard to have success. The Sharks face Nardin at 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Mang Park in Tonawanda and Buffalo Seminary at 4:15 p.m. Monday, April 24, at Kenmore East. Sacred Heart also faces St. Mary’s of Lancaster at 4:15 p.m. Friday at Como Park.

Sacred Heart’s home courts are at Willow Ridge Elementary.

Wingerter’s assistant coach is Kate Williams, who Wingerter said has been a big help.

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