Taking a break from tennis practice recently are (left to right): Gabrielle Kenney, Jennifer Paris, and Selena Primeau, the North Warren Central Seniors who have participated in the school’s Girls Tennis program since they were in the eighth grade.
There’s a scholastic sports team in northern Warren County that’s been making waves in September with several David-versus-Goliath performances.
The North Warren Girls Tennis Team recently defeated their Glens Falls and Hudson Falls counterparts, two schools that each have about four times larger enrollment.
In its sixth year of existence, the North Warren team — the only girls tennis squad from schools competing in the Adirondack League — has already achieved formidable accomplishments.
In 2010, the North Warren Girls Tennis Team fought their way into the second round of team play in the Section II tennis tournament, beating the second-seeded team in the first round. Also, the Cougars’ doubles team of Jennifer Paris and Gabby Kenney made it to the quarterfinals of the Section II tournament held in Schenectady.
North Warren, flying solo in the league with their girls tennis program, has to compete against much larger schools to qualify for Section II tournament play.
This year represents a milestone, as a trio of girls that joined the team in the eighth grade at the Modified level are now Seniors.
The 2011 team has considerable talent, with Seniors Paris and Kenney returning, along with three of their talented classmates: Selena Primeau, Ashley Maresca, and Charissa Cronk. They are joined on this able squad by Juniors Abby Bradley and Brittany Schultz, as well as Sophomores Sierra Liebelt, Danielle Primeau, and Lexi Pratt.
The Team members’ scholastic performance has equalled their dedication on the courts, coach Poul Carstensen said this week. The players have been Scholar Athletes for all six years they’ve have been practicing and competing together, he said.
The girls tennis program at North Warren was founded six years ago when the school’s volleyball team was discontinued due to low participation. North Warren’s then-Athletic Director Sue Huck asked Carstensen to coach a fall tennis team for girls. Carstensen took on the challenge, and a group of girls that possessed athletic promise and dedication signed up.
The team’s first two years was a learning experience, but the girls’ determination, and their experience in the local summer youth tennis program, made a considerable difference.
By their third season, their wins outnumbered their losses despite being pitted against far larger schools.
The girls’ varsity team plays non-league games against South Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, Glens Falls, and Greenwich in order to qualify for both team and individual Sectional play.
As of Monday Sept. 26, the team had tallied a 2011 record of 2-3. Highlights of the season include beating Hudson Falls 5-1 on Sept. 22 behind strong performances by Jennifer Paris, Gabby Kenney, Abby Bradley and Selena Primeau in singles matches, and skilled play by Ashley Maresca and Sierra Liebelt in a doubles win.
Also, there was the 4-3 victory Sept. 16 against Glens Falls, when the doubles teams of Charissa Cronk and Brittany Schultz followed by Ashley Maresca and Sierra Liebelt sealed the win, along with singles players Jennifer Paris and Selena Primeau scoring wins.
A big element in the team’s success has been Carstensen’s approach, according to citizens and sports fans who praise his supportive, encouraging attitude that prompts the players to play with skill and passion — and enjoy every moment.
It has been predicted that tennis at North Warren has a bright future, as Carstensen is still recruiting players of all ages and skill levels, getting them to join both the Varsity team and the Modified squad, which plays in the Adirondack League in a co-ed format.