Whitehall-Yearling girls tennis coach Anthony Paletta is hoping a fresh look to the school's courts will help give his program a boost.

The Rams will play their home matches on renovated courts. The project was part of Whitehall City Schools' 3.41-mill combined permanent-improvements levy and bond issue, which was approved by voters in November.

"Having the new courts are vital to the program," Paletta said. "Any time you get the kids excited to feel some pride in their hometown, pride in their school, it's nice."

Paletta and athletics director Bill Hughett were hoping the courts would be ready by Aug. 12.

"The old courts were in bad disarray," Hughett said. "They had large cracks, large holes. We tried to (patch) them for a long time. It was just time to tear out and redo."

While work continued on the five courts, the team practiced in the school's parking lot, although Hughett was looking for alternative sites for the Rams to train as the courts neared completion.

Whitehall opens the season and MSL-Ohio Division play Aug. 22 at Bexley.

The Rams return five players, including senior Izzy Simmons, who again is expected to play first singles.

"Izzy will be our top girl, most likely our top singles girl," Paletta said. "She also plays basketball and runs track. She's an athlete."

Also back are senior Jennifer Duarte-Gonzalez, junior Anna von Dolln and sophomores Leslie Gonzalez and Shaye Parsley.

"I'm really stressing the team unity idea," Paletta said. "I drilled them the first practice. I really want them to set the tone for the rest of the school. I want them to be role models of the school. That's big for me."

Paletta is hoping to add players once school starts Wednesday, Aug. 21.

"Last year was my first year coaching the girls tennis team, so now we're just building upon that," said Paletta, who also is the school's boys tennis coach. "We're growing the team. My goal is to have 15 girls on the team. When school starts, I think kids are going to come out of the woodwork. I know there's a lot of kids interested in playing and having school start helps."

Last season, the Rams finished 0-13 overall and 0-5 in the MSL-Ohio.

"Anthony is a very optimistic person," Hughett said. "He's very excited about his program. He's done great things for the program. We had almost 25 boys in the boys program last spring. He's really looking forward to the fall and the girls and the new courts."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 20 -- At Walnut Ridge

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 20 -- At Zanesville West Muskingum

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy and Groveport

Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Columbus West

Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Whetstone