Aug. 21—KINGSTON — Wyoming Seminary tennis coach Raphael Cooper declared that, as a kid, he loved reading the preseason football guides in newspapers that previewed the pending season.
Using that as inspiration, he wanted to bring attention to the sport he is now dedicated to: girls tennis.
He organized and brought together players and coaches from the programs that make up the Lackawanna League and Wyoming Valley Conference for the inaugural media day Sunday afternoon at Wyoming Seminary.
“In the first year, I said I would have been happy with 50% turnout, but we have excellent turnout,” Cooper said. “It just shows that this district deserves this. The coaches care, and everybody wants to celebrate this. It’s great for girls sports. I couldn’t be happier. Everybody seemed to be happy, so I am very happy.”
Attendance was good. Eleven of the 15 teams from the Lackawanna League and nine of the 13 from the Wyoming Valley Conference filled the gymnasium. They had an opportunity to socialize, get photos and enjoy pizza.
Cooper cited the desire to give girls tennis a spotlight and recognized the recent success of players from District 2 who have won PIAA titles, which includes Riverside’s Karissa Ghigiarelli in 2019, Crestwood’s Christine Kansky in 2001 and 2003, Wyoming Seminary’s Nathalie Joanlanne in 2013 and Wyoming Seminary’s Ilana Rosenthal last fall.
“This is really cool,” said Delaware Valley‘s Ceanna Williams, who traveled more than 70 miles to the event. “We see a lot of the players and see who is new coming up in the league. Everyone was having a great time, and I couldn’t wait for the pizza.”
Scranton senior Maia Philbin, a returning All-Region player, enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and talk with the players from across District 2.
“It is so nice to be able to see all of the girls and receive some recognition for their tennis,” Philbin said. “I am super excited for the season. I am also a little sad because it is my senior year. I am looking forward to playing and having fun this season.”
Players who attended were Abington Heights’ Sona Hanumali, Mary Booth and Bernie Mullin; Delaware Valley’s Noelle Holderith and Williams; Honesdale’s Lucy Harrington and Mandy Grossman; Mid Valley’s Olivia Brzozowski and Lismarie Mercado; Montrose’s Cara Evans and Jessica Carey; North Pocono’s Nora Pencek and Morgan Carr; Riverside’s Leah Pfeiffer and Mia Scotti; Scranton’s Philbin and Tejshree Patel; Valley View’s Tessa Stafursky, Ally Stafursky and Avianna Santarelli; Wallenpaupack’s Sarah Niemiec and Erika Badner; and West Scranton’s Katherine Barnansky and Celia Emiliani.
Representing the Wyoming Valley Conference were Berwick’s Norah Hestor and Addison Post; Crestwood’s Camerone Carlos and Hannah Ziegler; Hanover Area’s Azariah Muhammad and Caitlyn Majiros; Hazleton Area’s Jenna Harmonosky and Katy Harmonosky; MMI Prep’s Ava Genetti and Kendall Orozco; Pittston Area’s Ayla Krieger and Laura Farber; Tunkhannock’s Molly Keiser and Adaliah Pineau; Wyoming Area’s Cadance Cable and Morgan Slusser; and Wyoming Seminary’s Mo Doherty, Eshaal Ahmad, Elisabeth Moules, Addison Priebe and Lizzie Weaver.
“This is really nice and a really good experience,” Valley View’s Avianna Santarelli said. “It is good to get recognition for the sport and all the hard work that we do.”
District 2 tennis chairman Mike Ognosky asked that teams complete their regular seasons no later than Sept. 28, so that the team championships can get started as early as Sept. 29. The tentative start date for the singles championships is Oct. 9, and for doubles, it is Oct. 13.
Cooper also announced plans are in the early stages to organize a tennis all-star event in the spring for both girls and boys players.
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