Niagara Gazette — Kristin Janese has been coaching girls tennis at Niagara-Wheatfield for eight years, and the majority of that time, five of her roster spots have remained locked up by the same group of girls.
After an 11-3 finish earned her 2011 team second place in the Niagara Frontier League, Janese will look to that trio to lead her Falcons to a league championship.
Returning for their fifth seasons with the team are seniors Liz Barrett, Frannie Viola, Kelsey Murphy, Lyndzie Vail and Bri Fiorita. Joining them on one of the deepest teams in the NFL are fellow senior returnee and fourth-year player Karyn Kalita.
"I think the girls really want to improve their record from last year," Janese said. "Things have definitely been more intense this year and they're really working together as a team to get better."
Rounding out the N-W roster are two juniors, a sophomore and one seventh-grader in Lila Trunzo. Janese said she'll lean on her six seniors for most of the year, while rotating in Trunzo and the other underclassmen to ensure they get experience.
Opposing teams know they're in for a match when facing Niagara-Wheatfield. Niagara Falls coach Joe Sarkees made a point to call the Falcons contenders.
"It should be a competitive year in the NFL," he said. "Lockport and defending champion Kenmore West both look strong, but I really see Niagara-Wheatfield as the dark horse. The Falcons have a team that can do some real damage."
Mia Villani, Annie Corrao, Zaineb Khawar, Liana Buscaglia and Emelie-Jo Scheffler look to be mainstays in the Vikings' top seven this year following the loss of nine seniors from last season's 5-9 team, including four starters.
Returning to the lineup are captains Corrao (senior) and Buscaglia (junior), as well as first singles player Villani. New faces include Khawar, a senior, and Scheffler, a freshman.