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A tribute to YSHS 2020 senior athletes: tennis

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When Ohio school buildings were ordered to remain closed for the rest of the school year on April 20, the 2020 spring sports season for schools was canceled as well.

At Yellow Springs High School, pre-season practices had been underway for a few weeks when schools were shuttered mid-March. After off-season preparations, and with plenty of returning talent, local squads were ready for standout seasons.

With the support of the Yellow Springs High School coaches, the News will highlight all the spring sports senior athletes and their career accomplishments. This week, we look at the tennis team. In upcoming weeks we’ll profile athletes on the softball, baseball and track and field teams.

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This tennis season, featuring a team with depth and natural talent in abundance, would have been “one for the storybooks,” according to Coach Stacey Knemeyer this week. With a handful of athletic freshmen and a junior player on the rise, all led by six, female seniors playing on the boys team, it “would have been epic,” according to Knemeyer. She projected more wins than the team has seen in recent years.

“To say I’m disappointed not being able to see their success realized is a major understatement,” Knemeyer wrote in an email. “But I hope each of our seniors will carry with them a sense of pride for their hard work, dedication, fearless competition and lessons learned. Words cannot express how proud I am of them. I will miss each of our seniors very much.”

Eight tennis players graduate this year.

Tyler Linkhart played first doubles on the YSHS tennis team. In 2018 she was selected to the second team of the Metro Buckeye Conference, and in  2019 was named to the first team. Coach Knemeyer, in an email this week, wrote: “Tyler is an athletic superstar. Anyone who knows her, knows that about her. It’s a privilege for any coach to have her on the team. Tennis is no different. She’s a natural leader. She quickly analyzes her opponent’s weakness and finds a way to win. I was looking forward to seeing Tyler compete her senior year. She would have had an outstanding season with the high potential for another winning record. Nevertheless, she will continue to shine in any athletic endeavor she pursues.”

Olivia Snoddy played first doubles on the tennis team. She was selected to the Metro Buckeye Conference first team for doubles last year. “Olivia has shown a commitment to the tennis team like no other player,” Coach Knemeyer reflected. “She has an energy and positive attitude that sets the tone for the whole team. Her game has come a long way. Olivia would have been, in fact, our team captain this year. As a female captain playing mostly male dominant teams, this is an honor I hope she recognizes as one that is a high achievement, and well deserved.”

Abby McAnerney played third singles and second doubles on the team. In 2018 she won the Metro Buckeye Conference Sportsmanship Award. “Through the years, Abby has worked tirelessly to develop her tennis game,” Coach Knemeyer wrote. “Someone of her small stature must play twice as hard in competition. She is a grinder, willing to take on any opponent. She gives all she has each match. This willingness to take on a challenge, and to work hard, will serve her well in life.”

Jane Meister played third singles and second doubles. According to Coach Knemeyer, “Jane is our most improved player, from where she began her freshman year. She has developed her tennis skills and concentration, which are evident in her match play. Jane has learned to hit one more ball, an important tennis skill, which has afforded her nice success on the courts. On a side note, Jane’s sense of humor has been a fun surprise.  It’s been a joy getting to know her.”

Cassie Kludt played third singles and second doubles. Coach Knemeyer reflected, “Cassie has grown so much, as a tennis player and as a young adult. She is a fierce competitor. I’m not sure there’s a player on the team who hates to lose more than Cassie. She plays with an intensity and focus, from the very first ball. Cassie’s growth is a springboard for achieving future goals she sets for herself.”

Krista Romohr played second doubles for the team. “Krista’s tennis game has also come a long way since her freshman year,” Coach Knemeyer wrote. “She has such a can-do attitude, and is very coachable. It’s refreshing to have a player listen and give her best effort.  I appreciate Krista’s efforts and positive spirit. She has been a pleasure to coach.”

Esperanza Pernnatz played second doubles and Isaac Shultz, in what would have been his first year on the team, was to play second doubles as well. Reflecting on the duo, Coach Knemeyer wrote, “As a coach, one of the most rewarding aspects is when athletes decide to learn a new sport. It takes a lot of courage to put aside one’s ego, and start at the beginning. This quality, a willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone to try new things, is perhaps the most important lesson. Esperanza and Isaac, while both new to tennis, have demonstrated bravery and a commitment to learning new skills. For this, I give them my highest commendation and praise.”

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