Grizzlies still figure to make a racket

Granite Bay is down three singles players, but Forlini twins will lead charge for a fourth section title in a row
By: Brett Ransford
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By Brett Ransford Special to the Press Tribune Fuzzy green balls and hard-wired racquets meet again as Roseville-area high school girls tennis hits the pavement. League matches are around the corner, and the stakes are high for Woodcreek, Oakmont, Roseville and Granite Bay. Granite Bay is hopeful for a fourth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship. It will be coach Polly Hunter’s fourth and last season at the helm. “It’s never been about winning for me,” Hunter said. “That has just been the byproduct of this team’s talent. I’m not here to encourage girls to play their best and dig deep because in the end, there are more important things like character, sportsmanship and a unity out there as a team.” Granite Bay’s unity, however, lost three key players in Olivia Cornell and Karolina and Kammy Kecki, opting to pursue tournament play outside high school. Karolina Kecki won the last two Division II singles titles, beating Kammy Kecki in the final last year. But the Grizzlies have no shortage of talent. The Forlini twins, Chloe and Lily, return to attempt to defend their Division II doubles crown. Accompanying the twins are Erin Bell, Maddie Cornell, Stacey Wong and Amy Jahr in Hunter’s top six. Roseville coach Donny Nush will try to stand in the way of Granite Bay’s chance at winning the Sierra Foothill League crown. His Tigers were 7-13 last season, battling injuries. “This year, we are really excited to compete with the top teams,” Nush said. “This year’s team is fairly deep, and I would feel confident with shuffling and playing them anywhere.” Freshmen Janet Rowe and Emma Carlson and senior transfer Alexandra Weir are Nush’s prospective match changers. All-SFL first-team members Kristen Kirarski and Bianca Luna are standouts for Roseville. The Tigers return seven players, including their top four. Across town, first-year Woodcreek coach Christine Mabery has the task of taking the previous 0-12 Timberwolves forward. Mabery’s No. 1 singles player is freshman Karolina Smith of Norway. “Smith has brought a new level of competitiveness to the team,” Mabery said. “It was a tough conference last year, it will be tough this year, and it will probably be tough next year. Brutal is the word my team uses. But, there is only one way to go, and that’s up.” Mabery is confident Shalyse Bradford and Amanda Vertido will be surprise singles competition for their SFL competitors. Woodcreek returns 10 players, mostly juniors. Oakmont went 4-8 in the SFL a year ago despite the talent of Kayla Powers and Jennifer Gong. USTA tournament player Megan Sullivan is an up-and-comer for the Vikings, who are coached by Kevin Chorjel and now enter the Capital Valley Conference.