Cougar girls tennis players are beating the odds

WARRENSBURG In the sports world there are few things that are for sure. Others are nearly sure bets. Like whether a newly-founded team can tally a winning season not likely. Or whether a tiny school can compete against a behemoth counterpart forget it. But the North Warren Central Girls Tennis team is defying such conventional wisdom. They are only in their third season yet as of Sunday, their wins outnumber their losses. And they are winning, although they have so far been pitted against far, far larger schools. Their secret, said coach Poul Carstensen, is that the girls on the team have gained considerable experience through the summer youth tennis program, which Carstensen instructs and is offered by the North Warren PTSA. Four of the varsity girls tennis players are graduates of the two-week summer program, which offers instruction to children in grades 3 through 6. North Warren Central, which is a long-time pillar in the Adirondack League, has the only girls tennis team in the league, which is composed of C and D schools. Many of them, however, have spring tennis, which is offered for boys and may include female competitors if they dont play on a fall girls team. Carstensen, who also serves as the coach for North Warren Boys said he is lobbying for other Adirondack League schools to offer girls tennis. So North Warren, flying solo in the league with their girls tennis program, has to compete against much larger schools to qualify for section II tournament play. And they have done so this year with distinction. So far this year, the Cougars beat Hudson Falls 4-3, then lost to Glens Falls 6-0, and rebounded with a win over division-A South Glens Falls 4-3. Last year, their season tally was 1-5 with one victory over Hudson Falls. Their beginning season in 2006 was 0-6 which Carstensen said Monday was a learning experience, as they were competing with such large schools with well-established programs. However, the tide has now turned, he said. Weve now got seasoned, committed players with a competitive spirit, Carstensen said, adding that he was proud of their work. The players know how to adjust to their opponent, and can self-evaluate their game, and never give up on a match, he said. The girls have several more games this week, and then face South Glens Falls again the first week in October. Then, they head into sectionals, entering as a team for the first time. Last year, they entered some matchups on an individual basis. Not only is tennis a lifelong sport that keeps one fit, he said, the game also builds character among students. High School tennis matches are played with little to no coaching interference coaches are only allowed to speak their players when the players switch sides of the court between games. Plus, the players act as line judges and scorekeepers, he said. The school and the North Warren PTSA have been crucial in helping develop strong tennis players in our area, Carstensen said. Their tennis program has has been extremely beneficial to getting young boys and girls to think of tennis as a sport they will pursue when they get older.

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