HAWLEY — Wallenpaupack Area has been a juggenaut in the world of Lackawanna League girls tennis over the past 20 years.
Hall of Famer Bob Donovan led the Lady Bucks to divisional and district titles on a regular basis before stepping down in favor of current skipper Lisa Fives.
With Coach Fives at the helm, Paupack hasn't missed beat in the intervening three seasons. In fact, as The News Eagle went to press Monday, the Lady Bucks varsity squad was preparing for a playoff semifinal showdown with undefeated and top-ranked Abington Heights.
As Paupack's varsity girls continue their Class AAA championship quest, the JVs are basking in the glow of their own outstanding season.
"I'm very proud of this team," Coach Fives said. "There's no official junior varsity league, but we stepped up and beat everyone on our schedule. I couldn't be happier with how the year went."
And, with good reason.
The young Lady Bucks cruised to a sparkling 8-0 record this fall. Under the watchful eyes of Coach Fives and her intrepid assistant, Page Hochreiter, Paupack piled up impressive wins over perennial powerhouses Scranton Prep, Valley View and Delaware Valley.
The local lasses also posted a victory over archrival Honesdale.
"We had a bunch of tight matches, but these girls never backed down," Coach Fives said. "This is a hard-working group of freshmen and sophomores. They play all year round and it shows."
By the Numbers
Paupack's junior varsity success in 2012 was catalyzed by stellar singles play.
Stephanie Roa led the way at the #1 position. A sophomore known for her consistent all-round play, Roa earns high marks from her mentor for leadership and work ethic.
"Steph is a focused, determined young lady," Coach Fives said. "She has a complete game. Steph is at her best on the baseline, but she isn't afraid to come to the net and make things happen."
Alicia Brindle holds down the #2 singles slot. Another member of that talented sophomore class, Brindle battled Roa each and every week for Paupack's top spot.
"Alicia has excellent groundstrokes," Coach Fives said. "She never gives up on a point and that drives her opponents crazy. Alicia is probably most comfortable on the baseline, but she can get to the net, too."
Irene Gendelman is firmly ensconced in the third singles position. The team's emotional on-court leader, Gendelman is a nightmare match-up for opposing coaches.
"Irene is a very fiery competitor," Coach Fives said with a laugh. "She really hates to lose. Irene is super consistent. She hits deep balls and always hustles all over the court."
Page 2 of 2 - Over & Out
Coach Fives is in her 9th year overall as a member of Paupack's coaching staff.
She apprenticed as an assistant under Coach Donovan, then took over the program in 2010. Over the course of those three seasons, she's learned the importance of a solid JV program.
"We have 35 girls on the varsity and JV rosters combined," she said. "I'm proud of that. Most schools barely have enough for a JV team, but we're always out there looking for matches.
"Our kids are so dedicated to the sport. They're willing to do whatever it takes to become better players and make the program stronger."