PENNSYLVANIA'S #1 WEEKLY NEWSPAPER • locally owned since 1854

Falcons aim for the heights they achieved in 2011

Posted 8/28/12

By Tom Klemick For The Press And Journal It was the fall of 2010 when Lower Dauphin Coach Peggy Long said that her girls’ tennis team was one year away from being a championship-contending squad. Oh, how right she was. Last season was one of the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Falcons aim for the heights they achieved in 2011

Posted
By Tom Klemick
For The Press And Journal




It was the fall of 2010 when Lower Dauphin Coach Peggy Long said that her girls’ tennis team was one year away from being a championship-contending squad. Oh, how right she was.

Last season was one of the most successful in program history. The 2011 campaign saw the Lady Falcons finish third in the District 3 playoffs and culminated with the school’s first-ever trip to the PIAA state championship tournament as a team.  

“Last year was the culmination of four years of work with a very committed group of players,” said Long. “It was great to see all that they achieved and have their hard work and efforts rewarded.” tennispic color web 

Led by seniors, including Patriot-News Big 11 first-team selection Kailynn Dunkle and second-team all-star Shelby Jones, LD’s ladies made the 2011 season a historic one for the blue and white tennis program.

But with the change of the seasons from summer to fall comes a new year, and Dunkle, Jones and the rest of Lower Dauphin’s “fab five” that included Kaity Diskerud, Meredith Endy and Allison Lobell have graduated, leaving a tremendous hole for this year’s team to fill.

Luckily, there are still two members of last year’s group returning to lead the way this fall.  Junior Romayne Sharp and senior Heather Grove possess the valuable experience that the rest of their teammates do not have. They will be called upon to lead the Falcons and lessen the burden of such a great turnover from a year ago.

But those returning aren’t the only girls Long expects to play a vital part in her team’s success this season. Newcomers to the varsity squad will have a chance to make an immediate impact this fall.

No one epitomizes this philosophy more than freshman Jordan Schaefer who will begin her first varsity season as LD’s number-two singles player. Juniors Cassidy Fletcher and Bryana Melnic will also add to the Lady Falcons’ overall depth, an essential component needed to accumulate team victories.

With so much experience on their side, the Falcons were rightfully viewed as one of the top teams in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division in 2011. Long cited traditional top-tier programs such as Mechanicsburg and Hershey as obvious roadblocks standing in the way of a third consecutive winning season for the blue and white.

In order to combat talented opponents like the Wildcats and Trojans, Long and her players have been using recent preseason practices to accentuate the strengths of each individual girl and give the young squad any collective experience it can get.

“The preseason focus has been on helping each player to become competitive with the skills that they have and becoming effective at match play,” said Long, Lower Dauphin’s skipper of over three decades.

To many on the outside, the 2012 campaign appears to be one of regression; a step back after last fall’s trip to the state tournament. Long knows the success of the past two seasons will be tough to duplicate with so many fresh faces on this year’s team. But she made it clear that her girls are showing no letup. Their total team effort is one of a contender rather than an inexperienced upstart. 

“I expect this group to be competitive in the conference but this will be a rebuilding and growing year for the program,” she said. “The team has been very eager to improve and work hard during the preseason practices. The matches we have had so far have been competitive and have given us a good idea of the success of the season ahead.”