East Penn Press

Friday, September 21, 2018
PRESS FILE PHOTOEmmaus sophomore Mia Columbus is part of a Hornet singles line up that includes a freshman and two sophomores. PRESS FILE PHOTOEmmaus sophomore Mia Columbus is part of a Hornet singles line up that includes a freshman and two sophomores.

Girls tennis looks to have big week

Thursday, September 13, 2018 by STEPHEN ALTHOUSE Special to the Press in Sports

The Emmaus Girls Tennis team is 3-4 after seven contests this season, but that doesn’t surprise, or concern, head coach Brian Bleam.

“We were looking to improve on last year’s 6-9 record and that continues to be our goal,” Bleam said. “We are looking to improve as the season goes along.”

One of Bleam’s preseason goals was to have “the most agile team” in the conference. He has worked diligently to develop his players’ quickness through various footwork drills and on developing technically and tactically adroit tennis players.

His singles players — who consist of number one player sophomore Shannon Stewart, number two sophomore Mia Columbus, and number three freshman Jocelyn Chow — continue to gain experience and improve with each match,

Bleam, who is in his first leading the Green Hornets girls tennis team, has focused on developing a hard working, heady and mentally tough team this season with many younger players.

“I always tell them if you practice hard, you will make your matches easy,” he said.

When assessing his players, Bleam says Stewart has the attitude of a winner and power game to back it up. The coach says she has a “strong first serve” that can result in aces or in leaving the opponent vulnerable when returning it, allowing Stewart to control the volley and ultimately the point.

“She has a killer mentality and a strong kick serve,” Bleam says. “Shannon is also a risk taker and confident.”

Chow possesses a sterling slice back hand. The young player already has established solid footwork and good court coverage, although some work remains.

Doubles teams which can consist of senior Sonya Boukengolts and freshman Riley Stuckey along with sophomore Misa Hollinger and freshman Abirmai Chinnakaruppan. Other doubles players on the court this season have included sophomore Kristen Heilenman, junior Ivory Gao, sophomore Julia Marks, freshman Alyssa Mugavero

While the Green Hornets are under .500 after seven games,the coach notes “we’ve had some pretty close matches that could have gone in our favor.” with the opening match loss to Bethlehem Catholic being the only game that was not competitive. Emmaus had no trouble with William Allen (7-0), East Stroudsburg South (7-0) or Pocono Mountain West (7-0) in their three wins. The Hornets have losses to the always tough Easton Red Rovers, along with a (4-3) loss to Southern Lehigh and (4-2) loss to Pleasant Valley.

Bleam says the Green Hornets’ next three matches — against Dieruff, Freedom and Pottsville in a five-day period starting September 11 — are an important stretch for the team’s season.

“We’re going to try to get three wins this week,” Bleam said.