So with only two starters returning for 1999,

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

So with only two starters returning for 1999, you'd think the Rough Riders would be in a rebuilding mode.

Think again.

Despite the loss of so many regulars, Roosevelt coach Kim Uhlik prefers to look at his team facing a reloading, not rebuilding, situation.

"We have a bunch of big guns," he said. "We were pretty deep last year. We're not rebuilding at all. I don't think we've dropped in skill level.

"These are serious tennis players. I'd say there are more serious tennis players on this year's team than last year's. Tennis is an important priority in their lives. I think we're a team to be reckoned with."

The two returning starters were the Rough Riders' second doubles tandem last season, seniors Emma Baggett and Nora Noble. Baggett will move all the way up to first singles this year, while Noble will move up to first doubles.

Those two posted a 10-5 overall record (3-2 WRC South) at second doubles in '98.

Uhlik thinks Baggett will make a smooth transition from second doubles to first singles _ a significant leap in the talent level she'll face.

"She wanted to play singles last year, and she had to learn how to play doubles," said Uhlik, whose team opens its season at home against Twinsburg Thursday at 2:30 p.m. "She wound up being a good doubles player, but she's a natural singles player."

Freshman Sarah Durkalski will likely move into the second singles slot.

"She's been pushing Emma for first singles, but Emma has held her own so far," said Uhlik.

Junior letterwinner Rachel Tardif and sophomore Lindsay Wargo, doubles players a year ago, are battling for the job at third singles.

The three singles players behind Baggett are fairly evenly matched, with Durkalski holding a slight edge, according to Uhlik.

"Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and I'm still looking at them," he said. "Based on team rankings, Sarah is ranked second."

Pairing with Noble at first doubles could be Tardif, Wargo, senior Michelle Hu or junior Jen Killius.

Those four, along with freshman Denise Haroman, are also in the running for the two spots at second doubles.

Uhlik says the fact that most of these players are varsity newcomers could actually work to their advantage this season.

"All the impatience of the girls who couldn't get (starting) spots last year is actually motivating them as they look to get playing time this year," he said. "And they're hungry, too."

That, of course, might well translate into an advantage for the entire team and its fortunes.

"I think we're capable of being very, very competitive in our own

division," said Uhlik. "Last year's team was 13-6, and I'm going into it

with the feeling that we can do that again _ and be improved, of

course."

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