Paupac's girls varsity tennis team is once again near the top of the Lackawanna League standings.
HAWLEY — Fall tennis season comes and goes rather rapidly.
And, with only five match-ups left in the regular season, the Wallenpaupack Area's varsity girls are holding firmly on to second place with an 8-2 record.
Trailing only Abington Heights, team members are confident they will stay in contention and capture the second seed at the district tournament. Getting to where they are hasn't been easy though.
Head Coach Lisa Fives explains: "Honesdale gave us some competition and we came from behind against Scranton."
Part of the Lady Bucks' success is due to the doubles team of seniors Christina Brislin and Gigi Elashram. The pair is undefeated so far this season and earned the only points for Paupack in their meetings against perennial powerhouses Scranton Prep and Abington Heights.
"This is the first year we've played as partners," Brislin said. "Most of the girls like playing doubles."
Elashram then picks up the conversation.
"Doubles is a lot more about strategy than skill," she said. "Setting up the other team so they can't play the ball well is more effective than making a precise shot. The game is faster too, so you have to rely on your partner too."
Both girls agree that playing doubles has its ups and downs.
The common sentiment is that if a player is having a bad day, there's back-up on the court, but no one wants to be that person who's having the bad day. In that case, one risks being the player that causes the pair to lose.
Girls who aren't on the court are often busy helping Coach Fives keep tabs on the six ongoing matches. Tennis etiquette doesn't allow for her to do much more than comment positively to her players once competition has begun.
The other girls are allowed to cheer on their friends as well.
"I usually concentrate on a match where I think we might struggle, the girls help me a lot by offering encouragement to the other players," Fives said.
Other members of the team pitch in by keeping score and helping out behind the scenes.
Singles & Snacks
The top ranked Lady Buck is senior Stephaine Halas.
On the court, she is focused and plays a cool game remaining relaxed against her opponents. Off the court she is upbeat and tends to her teammates.
She dishes out popcorn and pretzels to her teammates. Most of them probably haven't eaten anything since lunch and have sat through chemistry, composition, and calculus classes before picking up their racquets.
A snack is in order. Halas has found herself playing singles this season and while she enjoys this, it is a bit of a change.
"I played doubles for the last three years but we lost five staring players so some of us had to switch things up a bit, she said. "I'm doing well as a singles player, but I still prefer doubles.
A track runner in the spring, her choice to play tennis is based on her passion for life-long sports.
"You can run and play tennis when you are 70," she said with a snicker. "You can't play field hockey when you get old."
One player who prefers playing singles is senior Jenna Franklin.
"The pressure to win is all on you," she said. "In singles, you don't have to worry about bringing someone else down."
Like just about all of her teammates, Franklin started playing in 7th grade with the junior high program and faced off against kids from Delaware Valley and Dingman-Deleware.
Her older sister played tennis as well, so she had some knowledge of the game and had someone to play with in the off-season.
Like many of her fellow players, Jenna plays through the summer; but, she has other athletic and extracurricular pursuits. In the spring Franklin runs hurdles and in her spare time enjoys horseback riding.
How the girls manage their time is commendable in and of itself.
Seniors like Chiara Marone, Pamela Rosato, and Brooke Hillriegel juggle a packed sports schedule in the fall as well as things like theatre, student council, and part-time jobs.
Christina Brislin will be graduating at the end of the fall term and has decided to start college in January and Gigi Elashram somehow divides her time between tennis and the marching band. There she is the section leader for the clarinets and enjoys helping the freshman band members learn the steps.
"We wouldn't be able to do all of these things without the support of our coaches and the faculty members that lead the extracurricular activities," she said.
"Most of them are very patient and flexible with all the things we are involved with. They recognize these things are all equally important to each of us, and so they are willing to work around our crazy schedules."
There's an old adage that says words to the effect of "Busy people get things done." There must be some truth to it as the Lady Bucks are certainly proving the point.