Aurora -- A youthful Aurora High girls tennis team may just need to get some matches down before settling in to compete in league play.
Veteran head coach Dania Banc started out the season with only two players with varsity experience. Despite come close losses, Aurora is 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division.
"We're off to a slower start than in years past," said Banc. "I think the new girls are nervous and just need to settle in to their varsity positions, and get used to playing under the pressure."
A pair of 3-2 losses to Avon and Copley were tough for the Lady Greenmen.
Top returning players from last season are senior Taylor Miotke and sophomore Nadia Abbass. Miotke is 6-0 so far.
"Taylor is looking very strong, but hasn't really been pushed too hard," said Banc. "I'm looking forward to watching her play against some tougher opponents. She has been dominant in every match so far.
"Nadia really turned up her game last week. She has won some very tough matches that we needed her to win. She's looking very confident in her last couple of matches."
Newcomers making the biggest impact include seniors Dhestini Cunningham and Irveen Singh, plus sophomore Karen Steinbauer and freshmen Amanda Hsieh and Sarah George.
"Amanda is young and needs to get this season under her belt to help with her match strategy, strength on the court and her confidence," explained Banc. "I look for big things from her in the next couple of years.
"Singh and Steinbauer [the first doubles team] have had a lot of hard-fought close matches and they, too, just need confidence.
"Once they start to feel a little more comfortable, I look for more matches to go their way. They just can't close out a match, but more experience and mental toughness will help them pull out the close matches."
Also making some varsity appearances this season will be freshman Caroline Scarazzo and sophomores Claire Rosengarden and Lindsey Jochum.
"George and Cunningham look strong," the coach said of her second doubles duo. "I think George is a gamer; she wants to learn everything she can learn about the game and has a desire to win that I haven't seen before in a freshman.
"Cunningham has a quiet strength, and she gets balls back in play and is consistent. As a team, they need to work on smarter shot selections during their matches."
Aurora posted a 3-2 non-league win over Massillon Jackson on Aug. 27. It was Jackson's only loss of the young season in eight matches.
George and Cunningham posted a huge three-set win over Jackson, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. Miotke won 6-0, 6-0 and Abbass was a 6-3, 6-1 victor.
The Lady Greenmen host West Geauga today (Sept. 3) and travel to Solon on Sept. 4 and Perry on Sept. 8.