DeSales Roundup: Girls tennis team features versatile lineup
DeSales girls tennis coach Tom Snyder is used to the annual rite of figuring out the best spots for his players, especially early in the season, but that comes with a twist this year.
Unlike in previous seasons, the Stallions began with more certainty at doubles than at singles.
Junior Molly Ballard moves into the first-singles spot, succeeding 2020 graduate Megan Husslein, but Snyder expects to spend the first few weeks seeing who best fills second and third singles.
"We have a lot of good options with players capable of playing singles or doubles. Our versatility is a strength," said Snyder, whose fifth season began Aug. 8 when DeSales participated in the Mount Vernon Invitational at Kenyon College. "I like the depth of our program and the direction we're heading."
Seniors Evie Brainard and Amelia Zaremba and junior Kat Jolley also return from last year's team that went 15-4 overall and 2-1 in the CCL, second behind Watterson (3-0).
Snyder didn't hold back on expectations for Ballard, who won 20 matches as a sophomore and came within a win of advancing to the Division I district tournament. Fifteen of those wins were at second singles.
Ballard placed first at first singles in the Mount Vernon Invitational. Jolley and sophomore Ella Dingman were second at first doubles, and the second doubles team of Zaremba and junior Pascaline Ndayishimye also finished as runner-up.
"It's a big year for Molly, making the transition to first singles," Snyder said. "It's never easy replacing a player like Megan Husslein, who went 19-5 at first singles, but (Ballard) is ready for the challenge. It's her third year on varsity and second year playing singles. She'll be a big key to our success in 2020 and 2021."
Brainard went 12-6 at third singles last year and is expected to play in either the second or third spots.
Dingman won 16 matches on junior varsity last year and was expected to see time on the girls lacrosse team in the spring before its pursuit of a second consecutive Division II state championship was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
"Kat is our most experienced returning doubles player," Snyder said. "Ella is a good athlete who has the type of aggressive mentality that you like to have in a doubles player."
Zaremba, Ndayishimye and sophomore Maddie Hill likely will alternate between singles and doubles.
The program has a total of 14 players, many of whom helped the junior varsity team to a 16-2 record last year.
DeSales was 1-1 before its scheduled home opener Tuesday, Aug. 18, against Mount Vernon, although the site had yet to be determined last week.
The Stallions opened Aug. 11 with a 4-1 loss at Jonathan Alder and edged host Westerville North 3-2 the next day.
DeSales begins CCL play Sept. 8 against Hartley at Wolfe Park.
"I was really pleased with the attendance at our open courts this summer, dating back to June, and in that time a number of players improved," Snyder said. "I'm excited to see it all come together on the court against another team."
At a glance
*Coach: Tom Snyder, fifth season
*Top players: Molly Ballard, Evie Brainard, Kat Jolley and Amelia Zaremba
*Key losses: Megan Husslein, Catharina Le and Abigail Waldren
*Last season: 15-4 overall
*2019 CCL standings: Watterson (3-0), DeSales (2-1), Hartley (1-2), Ready (0-3)