Horns and Storm tennis favorites
News-Gazette Photo/Andrew Sullivan
St. Cloud’s No. 1 singles player Eddie Perez volleys at the net during a recent match.
By Rick Pedone
The Celebration boys and Harmony girls are the defending Orange Belt Conference champions.
County teams have been placed into new districts: Osceola, St. Cloud and Gateway move to 4A District 5; Celebration and Liberty are in 3A-7; Harmony shifts to 3A-13 and Poinciana is in district 2A-9.
Coach Jerry Piester’s Lady Longhorns have dominated conference play and reached the regional playoffs the past two years, but most of those players are gone and Piester is working with a young team.
Four of his top five have graduated or transferred.
“Yes, I have some big holes to fill,” he said.
Olivia Porter steps up from No. 5 to play No. 1 singles for the Lady Longhorns. Stephanie Simandl, Hali Pierson, Andrea Juron, Shannon Donnelly and Marissa Brue all have match experience, Piester said, and will play this season.
Piester has six freshmen on the roster who are vying for a starting spot.
The Lady Horns won their season opener over Liberty, 5-2, winning all five singles matches, and then knocked off one of their their prime challengers, St. Cloud, 4-3.
Ann Moss coaches the Harmony boys team.
Her players include Zack Barton, Dalton Blanchard, Terran Cline, Dylan Gordan, Giancarlo Ferrucho, Giovanni Mella, Scott Sever, Kris Vargas and Emmanuel Zambrana.
Coach Tim McMullen returns to coach the Lady Bulldogs
Six players return: Juliette Andiarena, Claudris Belances, Melanie Hawkins, Darby Huggins, Paula Moranes and Kristina Wallace.
Newcomers include Payton Harvey, Ashley Iaciofano and Kassidy Vermeulen.
“We should be OK in the middle of the pack. Kassidy is a promising newcomer,” McMullen said.
Chad Ansbaugh will lead the boys team.
Back are Brice Berwanger, Tanner Hall, Kin Le, Carlos Martinez, Kyle Quarti and Nathan Robinson.
New players are Corey Hanson, Andrian Hernandez, Alexander Knipe, Edward Perez and Carlos Robb.
The team’s prospects would improve greatly by the return of Trevor Foshey, a two-time News-Gazette player of the year who is USTA nationally-ranked top 50 in his 16-under age-group. McMullen said Foshey will not be available for the high school season.
Catherine Thames takes over the Lady Storm tennis program this season.
She is enthusiastic about a lineup that has freshman Alex Tucker playing No. 1 singles.
The rest of the top five also are underclassmen: Caitlin Ayoub, Hanna Wagner, Sydney Lowell and Maija Sunnarborg.
The roster also includes Chevey Harrington, Jane Wheeler, Maria Santana, Amy Young and Gabriela Torres-Rullan.
Darren Holt takes over the Storm boys program from Bob Tripp, who led the Storm to four consecutive conference championships.
Holt’s top five are: Dante Cruz, Jacob Glodde, Keven DeVos, Nicholas Eynon and Alex Wurm.
Also on the roster are James Davidovich, Benjamin Callaghan, Zachary Callaghan, Alejandro Armendariz and Matt Fusco.
Coach Bruce Mulford returns to lead the Liberty boys team.
“We have a young team this year with all beginner players,” he said. “They players are improving daily and I look forward to seeing their progress during the season.”
Senior Ellison Rodriguez, sophomore Ashani McDonald and freshmen Daniel Aviles, Brendon McConney and Evert Jurado are the starters.
“We are rebuilding a program that should be solid for several years,” Mulford said.
Dai Bacon coaches the Lady Chargers.
Coach Troy Herrera returns to lead the Lady Eagles.
The team is led by senior Jacqueline Renteria, last year’s News-Gazette Player of the Year.
Also returning is junior Sabrina Escheverria.
“Everyone else is new to the sport,” Herrera said.
Coach Shane Whitsett takes over the boys program this season.
His top two players are Marcos Argulo and Marcos Lugo. Maurice Anglin will play No. 3 singles.
Johnathan Lindstrom, DGiavanni Lugo and Manny Sossa round out the lineup.
Coach Janine Koch returns for her second season as the Osceola coach.
The girls roster includes Diana Sharipova, Shala Gianzero, Janice Cardona, Gavvy Melendez and Edily Diaz.
The boys team includes Beris Ragoo, Joseph Fleming, Chris Singh, Scottie Rodriguez, Robert Schoemell and Luis Irizarry.
William Center coaches the Panthers boys and girls teams.
The girls roster includes Cat Vega, Esmerlda Segura, Melanie Alvarez, Julia Hoyes, Ravina Patel and Sara Anis.
The boys team has Roman Brown, Paul Schulz, Anthony Capobianco, Rolan Schiro, Kevin Sanchez, Zubayr Ahmad and Harris Alam.