2013 GIRLS TENNIS PREVIEW: Eagles flying high: Avon seeks another WSC title

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon’s Maddie Nakon, Madisyn Rini, seated, Halle Mentler, kneeling, Annie DeLuca and Riley Monroe are looking to repeat as West Shore Conference champions.

AVON — The seven seniors on the Avon girls’ tennis team don’t know what it’s like to lose the LCAAA Tournament. The way their final varsity season is unfolding, they may never have to.

“The past few years Avon has been a really strong team,” senior and second singles player Halle Mentler said. “One of the best qualities about our team is we’re all hard workers. We all work together, we all practice together. “

That hard work is paying of yet again as the Eagles look to snag their fourth-consecutive LCAAA crown and repeat as West Shore Conference champions. Nearly halfway through the season, sitting at 8-2 with their only losses coming against powerhouses Hawken and Magnificat, Avon appears poised to do both.

“Knowing who we’re playing and just going in as returning winners of those tournaments gives you confidence,” senior and first doubles player Riley Monroe said. “We work hard through all the matches and don’t let up because they’re long tournaments.”

While the Eagles fell 4-1 to the Blue Streaks — whom Avon considers to be among its rivals — Mentler said the experience helps prepare them for the second round of the Coaches Cup on Wednesday against Walsh, the LCAAA tourney this weekend, and the conference slate that leads up to the WSC tourney on Sept. 28.

“Magnificat is a really great team and they’re always a really big match for us,” Mentler said. “Even when we do lose to Magnificat we learn a lot because they’re probably the toughest team we play. It’s not even always about winning, it’s about getting the experience as well.”

With such an abundance of talented, veteran players, including her captains Mentler and Monroe, Eagles head coach Caroline Hughes has no shortage of confidence in her team’s ability to put together a successful campaign. Rather, one of her primary concerns is how to best utilize their skill sets.

“We have depth in this team and a group that supports each other, which helps,” Hughes said. “But sometimes having too much strength can be a weakness. It’s a matter of putting our players in the place they need to be to succeed.”

In addition to playing varsity tennis together, Avon’s seniors take many of the same classes, and a number of them have gone to the North Ridgeville Racquet Club for years. The Eagles have become a close-knit group that does its best to make certain everyone on the team thrives in competition.

“There’s a lot of communication with our team which is a strength because if one of us is down we can help them,” Mentler said. “All of us put in extra time with each other as well. If we don’t have practice or practice gets cancelled we still try to hit.”

Mentler and Monroe are among four returning players to win at last year’s LCAAA and garner First Team All-WSC honors in their respective bracket. No Avon player was able to advance past the sectional tournament, however. With the postseason a little more than a month away, the already well-decorated Eagles’ club hopes to see at least a few players add to their list of accomplishments.

“For most of us it’s our senior year,” Monroe said. “Winning the LCAAA, winning the conference again, and getting as far as we can through sectionals would just be great for the team.”

@NatePentecost

Last Updated: 9/1/2013 6:01:45 PM EST

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