Iarussi has since graduated, but there's a sophomore who is going to step into her No. 1 singles spot for the Ravens and have an immediate impact.
Stephanie Fosnight, an All-WRC second-team pick in '99 as the squad's No. 2 singles player, has moved up the ladder to the top spot and will lead a team that is coming off a solid 11-4 campaign.
"She has shown a lot of improvement since last year," said second-year Ravenna coach Jamie Strabala. "She was strong last year and is even stronger this year. She is definitely ready to move up to first.
"She played in a lot of tournaments during the offseason, played against some state qualifiers and had good showings against them."
Fosnight, who along with No. 2 singles player Kaylyn Moyer teamed up to win their division in the Record-Courier Portage County Open in July, has grown up with tennis. A younger brother and her parents all play, and her mom, Janet, is a volunteer assistant coach for the team.
"She knows how to play, that's the No. 1 thing," said Strabala of the 5-foot-3 Fosnight. "She can keep her opponents off-balance and she knows how to change things up. She has the slice, the back-spin, the top-spin. She knows every part of the game and uses it very well."
Moyer, a junior who was a WRC South honorable-mention selection a year ago, will play behind Fosnight, moving from her No. 3 singles slot.
"She's tall, about 5-10, and has more of a power game," said Strabala, shortly before the team's final preseason practice prior to (today's) season opener against Crestwood at the Ravenna tennis facility and Tuesday's home match against WRC South Division rival Stow. "She has a big serve and has been working more on getting some different components to her game, instead of being one-dimensional like she was last year. It was all just power last year. She has also improved quite a bit."
Three sophomores comparable in talent _ Cassandra Kornbau, Jennifer Farquhar and Kate Blair _ will compete for the No. 3 singles position.
"Here's where we get iffy," said Strabala. "We have had a lot of players who have improved over the offseason. They will all be battling for that spot. We have had a lot of playoffs, and it hasn't been set in stone yet."
Junior Amy Massowick and the lone senior on the varsity squad, Teresa Bellino, will match up to play first doubles for Strabala for the second straight season.
"They have been playing together for a while and know each other well," said the coach. "For them it's more of a placement game. They don't have the overpowering serves or ground strokes or anything like that. They work a lot with lobs and getting the ball to where the opponent isn't."
Blair, Kornbau, Farquhar and Chrissy Bailey will mix and match during the season to form the second doubles tandem.
Strabala, who will be assisted this year by new assistant coach Amy Brown, likes Hudson to win the WRC South, but believes his team has an opportunity to finish right behind the Explorers.
"I'm looking for Hudson to take the WRC again," said Strabala, whose squad finished 2-3 in South play last season. "We have a good chance of finishing second. We could go 4-1 or 3-2. It's so close with Kent Roosevelt, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow and Ravenna. We're all in that group there. It could go any way."
Interest in tennis remains high at Ravenna as Strabala had to narrow a pool of 60 people down to 35. It is also a young squad with only the one senior _ Bellino.
"I'm looking for another good year," said Strabala. "The team has good chemistry. A lot of girls came out again this year. We still have a good future ahead of us."