Ricciardi, JFK duo earn top seeds
By ALEXIS BARTOLOMUCCI
Marisa Ricciardi is representing Poland as she prepares for the girls tennis Division II district tournament on Oct. 13 in Akron.
The senior is the top-seeded singles player and competed against Anna Garvin of Lakeview Thursday afternoon at the Division II Sectionals at Boardman Tennis Center. Ricciardi defeated her opponent 6-0, 6-2.
“She sees the court so well and understands the geometry of the game of angles and strategy,” Poland coach Jimmy Leslie said.
This is the first year Ricciardi has made it to districts in singles play. Her freshman year her and her doubles partner Audrey Schweers were runner-ups in sectionals and her sophomore and junior year they were sectional champions.
She made it to state her sophomore year with Schweers, but lost in the first round.
“She has that athletic ability and that drive to take her to the next level,” Leslie said.
Ricciardi is able to confuse her opponents by switching up her playing style during the match. Leslie said her ability to combine the mental and athletic ability is what elevates her above other players.
Poland’s team record this season is 20-1 and Ricciardi’s record is 25-1 including tournament play.
“It was really fun being out there for my last sectional seeding,” Ricciardi said. “All those matches really helped me prepare.”
Ricciardi is eager as she prepares for Districts. She said she has a lot of friends who will be competing in Districts and is excited for the competition.
Another first is the doubles team of Kaytlin Marlett and Lauren Kraker from Warren JFK who earned the first seed slot going into districts.
Marlett, a junior and two-time D-II sectionals singles champ, and Kraker grew up playing tennis together — but they have never been on a doubles team with one another during their time in high school.
“We haven’t played in over a year together,” Kraker said. “We have good chemistry, it wasn’t that hard to pick up where we left off.”
Kraker and Marlett defeated their opponents Isabella Francisco and Hannah Matthews from Mooney 6-0, 7-5.
“We definitely played better in the first set, the second set we let our guard down a little bit,” Kraker said.
The team said they knew going in it would be a tough match against a good team.
“It was good to get competition and both prepare ourselves for better competition at Districts,” Marlett said.
They will be going into Districts with an open mind and taking each match one at a time, but the ultimate goal is making it to State.
After earning first seed they believe that goal is not out of reach.
“The goal has always been to qualify for states and this is the first step in the goal,” JFK coach Brian Fry said. “Whether or not we get there, it won’t be for lack of effort on my part or their part.”
They are focused on training a lot over the course of the week to make sure they are prepared going into the competition.
The girls are both normally singles players but have been practicing a lot and on their own time. Fry said they work hard, are great kids and love the sport.
D-II SECTIONAL RESULTS
Lexie Tsudis defeated Vy Hoang, both from Ursuline, 7-5, 6-2, in another singles match. In doubles play, Caitlyn Condoleon and Sophia Zamarelli of Warren JFK defeated Julia Giamboli and Jessica DiDomenico of Mooney 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. All teams and players who played Thursday had already qualified for districts on Oct. 13 in Akron at Springside Racquet Club.
D-i sectional results
Sydney Cianciola and Cece Economus of Canfield defeated Akron Hoban’s Emily Day and Gracey Smith 6-2, 6-0. Another Canfield duo Anya Kan and Kate Ross defeated Emma Henson and Samantha Reese of Jackson. Both teams advanced to the district event at Springside Racquet Club.