When Harold Wales decided to volunteer as an assistant coach for the Kennard-Dale High School girls’ tennis team last season, he just wanted to be around the game he loved again.
One year later, Wales has taken on the head coaching role at his alma mater and the Rams are off to the best start in program history at 10-0, after a 5-0 win over Bermudian Springs on Monday.
“This team is extremely coachable,” Wales said. “They’re willing to learn new stuff and we’ve been working on more advanced shots.”
An experienced coach: Wales is as qualified as anyone to teach the K-D squad the difficult shots needed to begin the season with 10 straight victories. He's been a United States Professional Tennis Association instructor for more than 25 years.
He moved back to the area in 2013 after coaching in the Exton, Chester County, area for years, and served as the coach at multiple schools, including Great Valley and West Chester East. He also led the West Chester University program from 1997-99.
Changing things up: When Wales took over the Rams’ program, he had two major objectives to focus on. The first — recruiting softball players to the team because of their hand-eye coordination from swinging a bat.
The second point of emphasis — focusing on serves.
To Wales, the serve is the most important shot in the sport and he said that while most teams focus on ground strokes, the ability to deliver a precise and powerful serve could decide a close match.
A dominant performance: One K-D player that epitomized Wales’ philosophy against Bermudian was Brianna Miller. As the Rams’ No. 1 player in singles, Miller highlighted the dominance the team has shown this season with a straight-set win, 6-0, 6-0.
With the victory, Miller improved her overall record to 8-2, while increasing her total games won mark to 114 wins and 50 losses (70%).
To Miller, the biggest reason for the Rams’ success this season is the chemistry the teammates have with each other, on and off the court.
“We just have a really close team bond,” Miller said. “We’re a lot closer than we were last year, so I feel like it helps us succeed more because we know each other more.”
K-D was also helped Monday by a player who was asked to take on a bigger role because of an injury.
Megan Hawkins, the Rams’ No. 2 player in singles, was unable to compete because of an illness, so Grace Maccarelli was called on to move up to the No. 3 singles spot from her usual doubles role.
Maccarelli cruised to a 6-1 win in the first set, but needed everything she had to battle through in the second set for a 7-5 win.
Brianna Serruto slid into the No. 2 singles role and handled herself just fine, winning in straight sets. Serruto has now won 18 of the 19 sets she has played this season.
With the team off to the best start in program history, ranked No. 3 in the latest District 3 Class 2-A power ratings and players stepping up when asked to, Miller said the Rams will be able to continue their winning ways, if they all stay on the same page.
“I think we have a really good shot for the future and we can keep doing what we’re doing,” Miller said. “As long as we keep our bond together.”
That future could include the first division title in program history. K-D improved to 5-0 in York-Adams Division II with Monday's win. Gettysburg and York Catholic also are unbeaten in D-II action. K-D is at York Catholic on Wednesday and at Gettysburg on Sept. 24. If the Rams can win those matches, they would very likely claim the first division championship in program history.
In doubles action on Monday, the Rams got straight-set wins from Julie Rubelmann and Caroline Beighley at No. 1 and Shannon Fletcher and Victoria Santoriello at No. 2
OTHER GIRLS' TENNIS
York Catholic 3, Delone Catholic 2: At McSherrystown, the Irish received a straight-set singles victory from Natalie Javitt at the No. 3 match. The Irish picked up two forfeit victories in doubles. For the Squirettes, Olivia Roth and Madi Rollins each won a singles match. York Catholic improved to 5-2 overall and 5-0 in York-Adams Division II.
Central York 4, Northeastern 1: At Central York, the Panthers received straight-set singles victories from Audrey Stewart and Daniella Feistritzer. In doubles, Catherine Bennett and Maria Houseman won the No. 1 match, while Prital Prabhu and Sarah Gao won the No. 2 match. For the Bobcats, Jillian Laughman won the No. 1 singles match in straight sets. Central improved to 6-1 overall and 5-0 in York-Adams Division I. The Panthers are alone in first.
South Western 5, Dover 0: At Hanover, the Mustangs received singles victories from Emma Hynson, Sarah McComas and Sarah Wiles. In doubles, Emma Cockey and Meredith Lucey combined to win the No. 1 match, while Rachel Smith and Skylar Zepp won the No. 2 match. South Western is 8-3 overall and 5-2 in York-Adams Division I.
West York 4, Hanover 1: At Hanover, the Bulldogs received straight-set singles victories from Alisa Steele and Lexi Sanderson. In doubles, Sadie Mikula and Amara Weaver won the No. 1 match, while Alexa Stackhouse and Elise Darr won the No. 2 match. West York is 7-3 overall and 4-1 in York-Adams Division II.
Dallastown 5, Spring Grove 0: At Spring Grove, the Wildcats improved to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in York-Adams Division I. The Wildcats received straight-set singles victories from Meghan Salaga, Grace Heird and Lana Dumnich. In doubles, Amani Patel and Kylie Sciuto won the No. 1 match, while Catherine Lasher and Peyton Scarborough won the No. 2 match.
New Oxford 5, York Suburban 0: At New Oxford, the Colonials received straight-set singles victories from Kasi Conjack, Molly Socks and Kayla Hoffman. In doubles, Eryn Little and Brielle LaBreck won the No. 1 match, while Caitlyn Smith and Maddie Mummert won the No. 2 match.
York Catholic now alone in first place in Division III: The York Catholic golf team is now alone in first place in York-Adams Division III.
The Fighting Irish won the D-III tournament on Monday at Mountainview Golf Course near Fairfield. The Irish finished with a 340 total to best second-place Delone Catholic by six shots. Hanover was third at 398, York Tech was fourth at 404, Bermudian Springs was fifth at 411 and Fairfield was sixth ta 414.
York Catholic is now 23-2 in D-III action, while Delone is 22-3. The final D-III event of the season is Wednesday at Bridgewater.
York Catholic's Russ McPaul was the individual medalist at 6-over-par 77. Delone's Josh Sherdel was second at 81. Delone's Mason Clabaugh and Corbyn Keller and York Catholic's Josh Sutton were next with 85s.
South Western 4, Susquehannock 1: At Hanover, in a meeting of York-Adams Division II unbeatens, the Mustangs came away with the win to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in D-II. Susquehannock fell to 5-2 and 3-1. Susquehannock's Lauryn Wojcik opened the scoring, but South Western dominated after that. Caitlyn Coates led the winners with two goals and an assist, while Anna Sprenkle had two goals.
Bermudian Springs 2, Eastern York 1 (OT): At Wrightsville, in a York-Adams Division III showdown, the Eagles rallied from a 1-0 halftime hole to earn the overtime win. Bermudian improved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the division. Eastern fell to 6-2 and and 5-1. The loss ended Eastern's six-match win streak. Morgan Arnold scored in the first half for Eastern, off an assist from Lily Campbell. Bermudian's Hailey Lamo tied it in the second half and Lindsey Kutz scored the winner in OT. Kelsey Felix had 13 saves in a losing effort.
Central York 4, Dallastown 1: At Dallastown, in a meeting of York-Adams Division I contenders, the Panthers (3-4 overall) grabbed the win to improve to 3-1 in the division. Dallastown (4-4 overall) is 3-2 in the division. Red Lion, which dropped a 3-0 nonleague decision to Exeter on Monday, leads D-I at 4-1.
Kennard-Dale 1, Gettysburg 0: McKenna Channell scored the game's only goal to get K-D the win. The Rams won despite getting outshot, 10-3.
West York 6, Eastern York 0: At West York, the Bulldogs scored all of their goals in the first half en route to the win. Noah Murray had three of West York's goals, while Jeremy Gordon, Jason Bruder and Owen Jury scored once each. Ethan Nikolaus had nine saves for Eastern.
Garden Spot 3, Red Lion 1: In a nonleague contest, Red Lion dropped a 25-14, 25-20, 21-25, 27-25 verdict. Riley Good had 20 assists and Cassidy Crowe had 15 digs for the Lions.
Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.