Second-year Whitehall-Yearling girls tennis coach Anthony Paletta sees his team's hard work and commitment paying off.
The Rams earned their first win since 2017 by defeating Independence 4-1 on Sept. 10, and the players celebrated by ringing the school's victory bell.
Whitehall defeated Cristo Rey 4-1 on Sept. 23 and was 2-10 overall and 0-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Buckeye Valley on Sept. 24. The team recognized volunteer assistant coach Dimitri Teague before playing Cristo Rey.
Teague, whom Paletta credits in assisting with the development of the girls and boys programs, has been battling leukemia for 20 years.
Paletta also credits volunteer assistant Chris Davis and first-year assistant Sheryl Johnson for their contributions.
Davis and Teague said Paletta has been the main force behind a culture change.
"He's a track coach who never played tennis," Teague said. "To have someone to volunteer enthusiastically is why Chris and I got involved. The things he does for leadership in Whitehall is (commendable)."
"He's created a culture here," Davis said. "In a time when girls are dropping out of sports, he has increased the participation out here. He's pretty much responsible for getting the visibility of tennis much higher so that it could be seen as a viable sport as opposed to just focusing on basketball and football."
Paletta has been behind the program's commitment to having a strong work ethic on the court and in the classroom.
"I don't want to take all the credit because I couldn't have done this without having Chris, Dimitri or coach Johnson here," Paletta said. "This is pretty fantastic over the last few years growing this program for the boys and girls. I really think we're changing some lives here with tennis."
There are 14 girls on the team, five more than last year. Izzy Simmons has played first singles, with Kamden Pauley at second singles and Cali Justice at third singles.
Paletta said Justice is the Rams' most improved player.
"I've been coming out here every single day after school," Justice said. "I have early release and I'll come here by myself and hit some tennis balls."
Leslie Gonzalez and Alicia Pulido have played first doubles, with Lyric Boyer and Shaye Parsley at second doubles. Anna von Dolln also is contributing, according to Paletta.
Boys soccer team defeats Grandview
The boys soccer team earned a key MSL-Ohio win by defeating host Grandview 1-0 on Sept. 21.
Jefferson Martinez scored on a 30-yard direct kick and goalkeeper Jared Alvarez had seven saves, including a stop on a penalty kick.
Whitehall was 4-3-2 overall and 1-0-1 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Columbus Academy on Sept. 25.
"The team chemistry is very good," assistant coach Geral Leka said.
"The players are playing for one another and are demonstrating mental and physical toughness in key stretches of the game where legs are tired and fatigue starts to kick in.
"Our defense will keep us in all the games that we play and our offense is starting to improve significantly with chance creation."
Cross country teams compete in Centerville
The boys and girls cross country teams competed in the Saturday Nights Lights meet in Centerville on Sept. 21.
Daba Hordofe led the boys, finishing 19th in 17 minutes, 44.9 seconds in the varsity B race. Eyobong Ita was 108th (19:24) and Yared Yesuf was 127th (19:50).
The Rams finished 24th (634) of 33 teams behind champion Cortland Maplewood (95).
Simmons led the girls, finishing 194th (29:13.8). Justice was 234th (33:09.9) and Amy Hernandez-Paz was 250th (40:12.2). The girls did not have enough runners for a team score.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 28 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Sept. 30 -- At Hilliard Bradley
*Sept. 28 -- At Worthington Christian
Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Cristo Rey
Sept. 26 -- At Whetstone
*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls. The Rams lost to the Unicorns 25-15, 25-18, 25-15 on Sept. 3.
*Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Grandview. The Rams lost to the Bobcats 25-9, 25-20, 25-8 on Sept. 5.
*Oct. 2 -- At Columbus Academy. The Rams lost to the Vikings 25-12, 25-17, 25-15 on Sept. 10.