A new era is beginning in Medina County girls high school tennis.
Four-time Gazette MVP Ali Garrity graduated from Medina and took her talents to Siena College, but 14-year-old Cloverleaf freshman Emily Dunbar is expected to step right in as the best player in the county.
Dunbar, ranked among the top 100 14-and-under players in the country by the United States Tennis Association, is the daughter of former pro player Vicki Nelson-Dunbar.
Dunbar is also the sister of four-time Gazette MVP Ethan Dunbar and 2013 Division I state singles champion Jacob Dunbar, who earned three county MVP awards before graduating from Cloverleaf a year early.
The Dunbar boys are now on tennis scholarships at the University of Richmond, and their little sister, who has the ability to qualify for the state tournament as a freshman, is equally talented.
Emily Dunbar isn’t the only talented ninth-grader in the area, as Medina’s Emma Deimling is challenging honorable mention All-Gazette pick Brooke Ott for the No. 1 singles spot vacated by Garrity.
From a team standpoint, Highland went 16-1 overall last year and was undefeated in the Suburban League, where it won its first overall title since 2002.
The Hornets, however, will have to replace four-time All-Gazette choice Nicole Hadler, two-time pick Ashley Lengel and first-time choice Claire Watts, who all graduated. In addition, Grace Gsellman, an honorable mention All-Gazette doubles player last year as a freshman, is skipping tennis in order to play soccer.
The cupboard is not bare, as two-time All-Gazette choice Allie Welch is ready to move up to the top singles spot. Welch posted a combined 47-8 record over her first two seasons while playing mainly third singles, where she won a pair of SL titles.
Also back for Highland is All-Gazette pick Claire Cressman, a junior who will anchor the first doubles team, and honorable mention choice Madeline Petrich, a versatile senior who will likely play singles.
Wadsworth returns All-Gazette first singles player Kiersten Castner, while Brunswick will look to improve on a fifth-place finish in the six-team Northeast Ohio Conference River Division.
Here’s a look at the five county schools with girls tennis programs:
Coach: Carolyn Nemec, 6th year.
Courts: Neura Park.
Last year: 6-10 overall, 1-4 in NOC River (T-5th).
Key letterwinner lost: Halle Vargo (honorable mention All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Haley Yuhas (1st singles, jr.), Traci Spaeth (2nd or 3rd singles, sr.), Maria Santiago (2nd or 3rd singles, sr.).
Top newcomers: Miranda Cox (doubles, jr.), Danielle Leiken (doubles, jr.), Jaelyn Bowman (doubles, fr.), Jasmine Boyer (doubles, fr.), Kayla Webb (doubles, fr.), Julia Yencho (doubles, fr.), Kayla Bravchok (doubles, jr.).
Noteworthy: Alicia Giannell will serve as Nemec’s junior varsity coach.
Coach: Brenda Hewit, 10th year.
Courts: Cloverleaf High School.
Last year: 4-16 overall, 0-7 in SL (8th).
Key letterwinners lost: Mariah Wood (HM All-Gazette), Kelsey Duncan (HM All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Morgan Wood (2nd singles, jr.), Mikayla Vasil (3rd singles, so.).
Top newcomers: Emily Dunbar (1st singles, fr.), Katie Parker (3rd singles or 1st doubles, so.), Abby Bayus (doubles, jr.), Emily Myers (doubles, so.), Vicki Andrews (doubles, so.).
Noteworthy: The Colts have only the minimum seven players needed to field a complete lineup, so staying healthy will be pivotal.
• The presence of Dunbar at the top of the lineup means Morgan Wood won’t have to make the jump from third singles to the No. 1 spot. She’ll man the second singles position.
• Hewit will be assisted by Frank Luppino, with Nelson-Dunbar also lending a hand.
Coach: Lisa Reynolds, 11th year.
Courts: Paramount Tennis Club.
Last year: 16-1 overall, 7-0 in SL (1st).
Key letterwinners lost: Nicole Hadler (four-time All-Gazette), Ashley Lengel (two-time
All-Gazette), Claire Watts (All-Gazette), Grace Gsellman (HM All-Gazette, so.).
Returning letterwinners: Allie Welch (two-time All-Gazette, 1st singles, jr.), Claire Cressman
(All-Gazette, 1st doubles, jr.), Madeline Petrich (HM All-Gazette, 2nd or 3rd singles, sr.), Macie Petrich (doubles, sr.).
Top newcomers: Natalie Wiswesser (singles or doubles, jr.), Megan Bowers (doubles, jr.), Nicole Wiswesser (doubles, jr.), Jackie Yamat (doubles, so.), Maya Tuzzeo (doubles, so.).
Noteworthy: The Wiswessers are identical twins and the Petriches are fraternal twins who look a lot alike. The twin sisters are unlikely to play doubles together, though, because their games are too similar.
• Reynolds will be assisted by Ty Damon.
Coach: Pete Hoffmann, 9th year.
Courts: Medina High School.
Last year: 7-10 overall, 1-4 in NOC Valley (5th).
Key letterwinner lost: Ali Garrity (four-time Gazette MVP).
Returning letterwinners: Brooke Ott (HM All-Gazette, 1st or 2nd singles, sr.), Avery Major (HM All-Gazette, 3rd singles or 1st doubles, jr.), Rebecca Arnold (3rd singles or 1st doubles, sr.), Ashlynn Rodgers (doubles, so.), Sally Doyle (doubles, sr.).
Top newcomers: Emma Deimling (1st or 2nd singles, fr.), Becca Liebler (doubles, fr.), Ellen Greene (doubles, sr.), Emily Speckman (doubles, fr.), Emily Bader (doubles, jr.), Melissa Frey (doubles, sr.).
Noteworthy: Medina has 51 players out for the team.
• Cheryl Rerko and Tim McGoun are Hoffmann’s varsity assistants, while Julie Zavesky is coaching the junior varsity.
Coach: Kristy Nichol, 4th year.
Courts: Wadsworth High School.
Last year: 11-8 overall, 3-4 in SL (T-5th).
Key letterwinner lost: Kristie Noe (HM All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Kiersten Castner (All-Gazette, 1st singles, sr.), Brooke Fick (HM
All-Gazette, 3rd singles, sr.), Katie Doyle (2nd singles or doubles, sr.), Maria Pace (doubles, sr.), Kali Deem (2nd singles or doubles, sr.).
Top newcomers: Emily McPherson (doubles, so.), Kelly Young (doubles, so.).
Noteworthy: Castner and Doyle will serve as Wadsworth’s captains.
• Nichol will be assisted by Christa Halicki, the coach of the boys program.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.