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Caseys look to contend in tough girls tennis division

By Warren Rappleyea

Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School’s girls tennis team split its first two matches by identical 3-2 scores, and coach Lynn DiGioia expects her team to be challenged this season, as it looks for another strong campaign after posting an 18-2 mark a year ago.

The Caseys won the Shore Conference’s Class B North Division last fall, but realignment has made the division even more competitive. Manasquan High School moved in from Class A Central, and Middletown High School North and Middletown High School South joined from Class A North. Rival Red Bank Regional High School and Matawan Regional High School have moved to Class A Central, and Colts Neck High School and Neptune High School have joined Class A North.

RBC opened the campaign by edging Red Bank Regional in a nail-biter Sept. 7 and then fell to Manasquan Sept. 9. Freshmen Julie Moschella and Sarah Fazzolari posted wins at first and third singles, respectively, in the Red Bank Regional match, and the second doubles tandem of Jenna Ryan and Brianna Leon, also won. The Caseys squeaked past Red Bank Regional twice last season, both times by a score of 3-2.

Moschella edged the Lady Buccaneers’ Abby Decker, 7-5, 7-6(4), in a long match that featured several seemingly endless points, according to DiGioia. The match was tied at 2-2, but Fazzolari rallied at third singles to win after dropping the first set.

Both Moschella and Fazzolari won their respective matches against Manasquan, with Fazzolari once again coming back after dropping the opening set.

“Our division has changed this year, and it will still be very tough,” said DiGioia, whose team fell to Bishop Eustace Preparatory School last year in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Non-Public finals. “We’ve still got Wall Township and Ocean and Long Branch and Monmouth are good, too.”

Moschella, whose older sister, Rocine, starred for RBC, has established herself in the top singles spot thanks a powerful forehand, quick feet and a solid all-around game. Fazzolari has also displayed sound footwork to a go with a strong serve and a consistent baseline game.

RBC has another presence at second singles in Alexis Fuda, who went 10-10 at first singles last season. The junior owns an accurate serve that keeps opponents off balance, and she can put balls away on the backhand.

Senior Izzy Krynyckyi returns at first doubles, where she went 17-1-3, and is paired with Orla Cottell. Krynyckyi’s experience and speed enables her to get to balls, while Cottell is strong at the net and lobs well. After dropping their first match against Red Bank Regional, the duo lost in three sets to Manasquan.

Ryan, a sophomore, and Leon, a junior, communicate well on the court and work to set each other up for put-away shots. After their big win in the RBR match, the pair fell in three sets against Manasquan.

Junior Kerry Fell and sophomore Anna Adkins are RBC’s third pair at doubles and will likely see time in the regular lineup. Emily Bryson, Bella Murrer and juniors Catherine Coffenberg and Michalena Iannacone round out the Caseys’ roster.

“We have a lot of talented players, but we only have two starters back [in Fuda and Krynyckyi],” DiGioia said. “It’s just a matter of them getting experience and adapting to varsity tennis.

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