The Riverside-Brookfield tennis team is ready to hit the hard courts.
After compiling a 17-9 overall record last season and finishing tied for third in the Suburban Prairie Conference, Riverside coach Bob Hegner is anxious to start the season. This year, the Bulldogs have switched to the tiny Metro Suburban League, competing only against Fenton and Elmwood Park, both of which they defeated last year in dual-match competition. By taking a quick look at the Riverside roster, however, one would think this is a rebuilding year, considering the varsity consists of 10 juniors, one sophomore and one freshman. Hegner, however, has high expectations for his squad.
"A lot of times in this situation when a team has no seniors it is a rebuilding year," he said. "We had a lot of turnover with all of the seniors that graduated, but there were already six sophomores on the team who are now juniors. We also have 46 kids playing on the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams. So, I don't expect this to be a rebuilding year-we are going to go for it."
Concerning the lineup, junior Jackie Pendola will assume No. 1 duties, moving up from her third singles spot last year, while sophomore Lindsay Hayes will start at No. 2 singles.
"Both Jackie and Lindsay have really distanced themselves from the rest of the players, so it was a pretty easy decision to put them at first and second singles," Hegner said. "They both improved greatly over the past year and they have earned their spots."
After the top two spots, however, the rest of the lineup is up for grabs, according to Hegner. No where is that more apparent than the third singles spot. Juniors Kelli Cavalieri, Ryanne Ardisana, Nadia Danford and freshman Olivia Garza are all challenging for the position. The same situation exists at first doubles, with Hegner toying with several different combinations. Still, the early indications are that co-captains Colleen Morrissey and Ruth Osbrink will play first doubles, while twins Laura and Diana Goldberg will play second doubles and Ardisana and Mallory Swift will play third doubles. Danford and Anna Drake will most likely round out the fourth doubles position.
"Basically, there is a lot of room for change on the team this year," Hegner said. "Still, we have some matches coming up that will help us take a good look at the players and will allow us to determine our lineup."
Despite all the question marks, the Bulldogs boast enough talent that Hegner thinks they will surprise the competition.
"I want to label this year as a winning team and I think these girls can get the job done," he said. "We have a young team, but we are experienced-everyone did well at the JV level, so I think that will translate to the varsity level quite well."
RB's first league match is Sept. 12 against Elmwood Park.