2014 champions: Orchard Park (ECIC I), Hamburg (ECIC II), Depew (ECIC III), tie between Lockport and North Tonawanda (Niagara Frontier League).
Top 2014 underclassmen: Fredonia’s Georgianna Gens finished second in the Section VI singles tournament as a sophomore last year while Clarence’s Nicole Kozinski was third as a sophomore. Both participated in singles events at last year’s state tournament and Gens won her opening-round match. Victoria VanEvery was a sophomore while Southwestern teammate Elizabeth Rowan was a junior when they placed first in Section VI for doubles. VanEvery and Rowan lost in the first round of the state tournament.
Round robin: One of the most important tournaments of the season for Orchard Park comes before the season even starts. Every year, head coach Sandy Trampert has all her girls compete in a singles tournament against one another and the results largely dictate who gets the first, second and third singles. With all three singles players from last year graduated, this year’s preseason inter-squad round robin could be the most important one yet. Trampert wouldn’t even say any perceived “favorites” for those spots. “Everyone will be coming to opening week with their own strength and I think everybody will be playing tough during the round robins,” she said. Last year, the doubles team of Kristen Zablonski (then a sophomore) and Lauren Karoglan (then a freshman) took second in the Section VI tournament to qualify for the state championships.
ECIC I: OP won the league last year but the turnover means there’s no guarantee for a repeat. Trampert acknowledged some of the teams her girls will have to watch out for include Clarence, Williamsville North and Lancaster.
ECIC II: Hamburg is coming off an undefeated 2014 season in which all seven starters played in the ECIC Tournament. Hamburg graduated five of the seven, but returns Anna Chiacchia, who played first singles as a junior last season. Jordan Waris – who went undefeated in singles last season – also returns for her senior year. Head coach Joe Tretter said Chiacchia has a “fantastic backhand” and with Waris “her consistency and serve are her best parts of the game.” Wiliamsville East – led by senior and first singles Ananya Murthy – can threaten Hamburg. Last season, Hamburg won both matches vs. East, 3-2.
NFL: Last season, Lockport and North Tonawanda tied for the top record in the league. Lockport returns five of seven players, including junior Delaney Portka (who went 12-1 at first singles) and Maddie Stoness, coming off a perfect 14-0 season at second singles. Both competed at sectionals and are entering their third seasons as starting singles players. Look for Grand Island’s Emilie-Jo Scheffler to have a major impact as well.
Championship time: It shapes up to be possibly an excellent year for the Southern Tier -- not only are some of the top returning players from the area, it will host the Section VI tournament at noon Oct. 23 and 3 p.m. Oct. 24 at Chautauqua County’s Lakewood YMCA. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament is Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at Tri-City Fitness Club in Latham of Section II (Albany area). The Monsignor Martin Association holds its girls tennis season in the spring.
Who’s going to be Prep Talk Player of the Year? Gens and Kozinski would appear to be the favorites from Section VI, but look out for who steps up for OP. OP grad Haley Hollins, the 2014 award winner, will play at Niagara next year and 2013 winner Carlee Conway of Sacred Heart will begin her playing career at Navy after spending two semesters at the Marion Military Institute in Alabama. The Prep Talk Awards will be held June 15, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
Our special #PrepTalkPreview edition for fall sports will be published in The Buffalo News on Aug. 27.
It will include: