New standouts step up for Etowah girls
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
February 02, 2013 01:10 AM | 2171 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Etowah’s girls tennis program lost a lot of talent from last season to graduation, but the cupboard isn’t bare for coach Billie Morgan. Hannah Ayers, above, will be shifting from doubles to singles play as the Lady Eagles look to keep pace in a talented Region 5AAAAAA field.
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Etowah’s girls tennis program lost a lot of talent from last season to graduation, but the cupboard isn’t bare for coach Billie Morgan. Hannah Ayers, above, will be shifting from doubles to singles play as the Lady Eagles look to keep pace in a talented Region 5AAAAAA field.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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Etowah’s girls tennis team is no stranger to success, and while they may have lost two of their top players from 2012, coach Billie Morgan expects the rest of the Lady Eagles to pick up right where they left off last season.

“I’m very comfortable,” Morgan said. “It’s going to turn out to be better than I expected.”

They loss of singles ace Nicole LaDuca, who’s now at East Carolina, and doubles player Alyssa Siebold (Reinhardt) was tremendous, according to Morgan, but Etowah still returns eight players.

Among the returners are Sam Kaczaral, Hannah Ayers, Carlie Gilbert and Jules Coons. The squad will also be bolstered by newcomers Keegan Castell and Nikki Gilner.

One of the biggest changes will be that of Kaczaral and Ayers. A doubles team last year, they will now be the top two singles players.

“They are very good playing doubles and singles, so I’m very lucky at that,” Morgan said. “I think my girls will do well, but then I get to have everybody back for next year and the following year, so the outlook over the next three years looks really good.

Morgan said that while a Region 5AAAAAA title is a long way off, she does expect her team to make the state playoffs.

For the first time in the program’s history, Morgan decided to start a junior varsity team. With eight members on the JV squad, she’s looking to develop talent for the future.

“I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to play, but when you are competing at the level that we play, you go in with your starters and typically keep those in to play for you. But I really wanted people off the bench and playing,” said Morgan, whose JV team will play 15 matches. “Match play is what it is all about and this will get them experience in that. Everybody will get to play, and it builds a better team for the future.”

Etowah will begin its season Tuesday against Creekview, which graduated top player Emily Waters (Tusculum) but should return solid players in Emily Fraysier, Kelsey Wade and Lauren Pero.

Woodstock graduated a large portion of its roster, which challenged Walton for the region title a year ago.

Gone are Alyssa Kroll (Reinhardt), Tiffany Meyers and Nicole Nielly (Western Carolina), but all-county player Nikki Poirier will return for her senior season with the Lady Wolverines.

Cherokee, meanwhile, will have some depth the season. Ashley DeChandt, Maddy Gressley, Ashely Tofil, Corey Holcombe and Sydney King are among the top returners.

“I’m expecting a very successful season,” coach Angie Pannell said. “We have some very good returning players, and some new ones who are very, very promising.”

Sequoyah returns its entire roster from last season, but it remains rather young. Now in their fourth years with the team, seniors Caroline Gessner and Anna King will provide the veteran experience.

With five juniors, one sophomore and five freshmen, the Lady Chiefs have the best of both world — youth and experience.

“Our freshmen are all tournament players, so I am not worried about them stepping in and contributing from the first match,” coach Karin Eubanks said.

River Ridge moved up a class and will compete in Region 7AAAA under first-year coach Melissa Pierce. The Lady Knights struggled last season, but hope that experience pays off this spring.
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