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15-love: Will East keeps winning Talented Flames go undefeated again

The Williamsville East girls tennis team has been going undefeated in its ECIC league seasons for so long that the Flames don't even know the exact numbers of their winning streak.

But they are intent on keeping it going.

The Flames completed a 10-0 season Monday with a 5-0 victory over Sweet Home, marking the 15th straight season they've gone undefeated in ECIC divisional play.

Because the makeup of divisions has changed over the years, and the league schedules have altered between 10 and 12 matches, East coach Mike Venditti isn't exactly sure how long it is. In a 2003 News story about East's dominance, then-coach Dave Enders didn't know exactly how long it was either.

East, which has won all of its matches by 5-0 sweeps, is led by exceptionally talented players in senior Olga Khmylev and Miranda Podlas.

Khmylev, a senior who has verbally committed to Boston College, is among the top junior players in the country. Khmylev lost in the semifinals of last year's state tournament. Not far behind her is Podlas, a junior who advanced to the states last year in doubles.

Neither player needs to play high school tennis, where the competition in league matches is a different world than the matches the pair faces in junior play.

"What I think it is, is East's strong tennis tradition and its past success," said Venditti, a former tennis pro at Brookfield Country Club who is a physical education teacher at Dodge Elementary. "The girls really feel strongly about it and about continuing it. With my background as a tennis pro, we can give Olga and Miranda weekends to travel [to junior events] and some flexibility. That allows them to do both. And they like being around the girls, and the camaraderie, so it's a good balance."

The Flames have Emma Manuel at third singles while their doubles lineup usually consists of seniors Justine Rusk and Alyssa Drozynski at first doubles and first-year starters Samantha Rowen (junior) and Monica Joshi (sophomore) at second doubles. Junior Priyanca Waghmarae also sees time at second doubles.

"There's always going to be a good test for all the players -- just for some we might set high individual goals for sectionals or states," said Venditti. "But together we always have that team goal to keep the East tradition going and keep the winning streak going."

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Around the courts

*Niagara-Wheatfield went 1-13 last season in the Niagara Frontier League. Today, it can go 13-1.

The Falcons, who have already clinched the league championship, have a chance for a total turnaround when they take on Lew-Port today. Their lone loss was a 3-2 defeat to Kenmore East, which they avenged in the teams' second meeting.

"This is the same team -- we only had one starter graduate last year," said third-year coach Kristin Janese. "Last year we won the [NFL's postseason] bronze division title, and we finally got a taste of what winning feels like and gave the girls confidence coming into this year. They love it now."

Angela Hastings is 13-0 at first singles while Kaite Fryes is 12-1 in singles play, having moved up from third singles to the second spot. Kelsey Walck is 11-2 at first doubles with various partners.

*Orchard Park moved to 15-0 overall Monday with a 4-1 victory at Nichols that was boosted by a three-set victory by senior Jenny Waris at second singles. The Quakers are 10-0 in ECIC I. First singles player Caroline Bristol, a junior, is 15-0 on the season. She has played varsity since seventh grade.

Waris is also 15-0 while Katie Paiser, a junior, worked her way up to third singles after playing just exhibition matches last year and is 14-1.

Senior Amanda Rockwood and junior Alison Tepas are at first doubles while juniors Elizabeth Brydges and Allie Phillips play second doubles; both teams won in straight sets Monday.

*Williamsville North (9-2) senior co-captains Andrea Lovrincevic and Jackie Mistretta have played first and second singles, respectively, this season and have played for the Spartans since 2004. They'll likely try to make the Section VI tournament as a doubles team. Mistretta beat Hamburg veteran Becky Tobias during North's 4-1 victory Monday.

North junior Tina Miller, who won the ECIC title as a seventh-grader in 2004, decided not to play for North to focus on outside tournaments.

*Chautauqua Lake's Jenna Raynor, who qualified for states last year as the top qualifier from the CCIAC, is undefeated this season. Fredonia's Katrina Johnston, the No. 2 qualifier last year, has lost only one match this season, to Raynor. The CCIAC playoffs begin Friday and continue Oct. 14 and 15.

The ECIC singles tournament is Friday and Saturday at the Village Glen in Williamsville while the doubles tournament is the following weekend (Oct. 17-18). The Village Glen will also host the Section VI championships Oct. 24-25.

For more tennis, go to the Prep Talk blog located at buffalonews.com/blogs.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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