WHEELING - Coach David Riethmiller is entering his 24th season as the Linsly girls' tennis coach as his team looks to defend its small-school OVAC title.
"We have a challenging schedule," Riethmiller said, "but we're an experienced, senior-laden team."
The Cadets will rely on a strong senior class as Linsly will be playing many challenging teams, including a non-conference match with perennial powerhouse Charleston Catholic.
Captain Morgan McDermott will lead the way for the Cadets as she will begin her senior campaign at No. 1 singles. The four-year player has relieved all-conference honors her past three seasons at the same position.
Filling in at No. 2 singles will be McDermott's sister, Jackie. The sophomore also earned all-league laurels last season and looks to win her second OVAC title.
The McDermott sisters will team up at No. 1 doubles for the second season in a row as the duo claimed second place at OVACs last season.
Senior captain Regan Stein is entering her third year at No. 3 singles. Stein finished her junior season runner-up at the OVACs.
Handling the No. 4 singles seed will be Hannah Soloninka. The senior also finished in second place at OVACs her junior year.
While Riethmiller knows who will be playing No. 1 doubles, the coach has not yet determined who will be playing at the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. But the cupboard is far from bare.
Senior Kelsey Fithen, a past No. 3 doubles champion and No. 1 doubles runner-up, returns after not playing last year.
Junior Emmy Weaver is slotted in at one side of the No. 3 doubles, but her partner has yet to be announced. Waver is a returning letterman who was first alternate for the Cadets her sophomore season.
"The players and I are really looking forward to the season," Riethmiller said.
"I'm not sure if we could win the overall title, but I can see us winning the small school championship," Church said.
Church will rely on Jose Bird to help see his plans through. The senior will be playing at No. 1 singles for the Cadets going undefeated in the regular and OVAC Tournament where he entered as the No. 1 seed.
Bird will be teamed up with fellow senior Marcus Saludes at No. 1 doubles.
"They'll be pretty good this year," Church said.
Saludes competed at No. 4 singles his junior year but will be given a chance to be the No. 2 seed this season after the Cadets lost some players to graduation.
Weston Mead will play at No. 3 singles for Linsly. This will be the first year of singles action for Mead as he spent all of last season in doubles play, losing in the final round of the OVAC Tournament. The sophomore is currently a member of the Cadets No. 2 doubles team but his partner could change, according to Church.
Newcomer Nate Marhefka will handle the No. 4 singles seed. The junior will be playing his first year of competitive tennis.
The team of Justin Kim and Fernando Zazala will be the No. 3 doubles seed.
"They play good at No. 3 doubles, but neither one has played any tennis before," Church said. "We lost a couple of players but so did some other schools. We should be able to compete and be OK this season."
LINSLY 2012 TENNIS SCHEDULE
March 27: Wheeling Park (B)3:30 p.m.
March 27: at University (G)4:30 p.m.
March 28: at Wheeling Park (G)3:45 p.m.
March 29: at Steubenville (B)4:00 p.m.
March 31: Charleston Catholic10:00 a.m.
April 2: at Wheeling Central (B)3:45 p.m.
April 4: Wheeling Central (G)3:30 p.m.
April 3: Indian Creek4:00 p.m.
April 9: Oak Glen1:00 p.m.
April 10: at Wheeling Park (B)3:30 p.m.
April 10: Wheeling Park (G)1:00 p.m.
April 11: at St. Clairsville4:00 p.m.
April 13: at Wheeling Central (G)3:45 p.m.
April 14: Cambridge10:00 a.m.
April 17: at Morgantown3:00 p.m.