CHESTERTOWN - The North Warren girls varsity tennis team, having launched its sixth year with a group of veteran players, has tallied a 2010 season record of 2-1-1 as of Sept. 20.
The tennis team has a strong lineup for 2010, with a large group of experienced players returning: seniors Abby Bruce and Alana Kilcullen; juniors Gabby Kenney, Jennifer Paris and Selena Primeau, and sophomore Abby Bradley.
But they also have a not-so-secret weapon for 2010 in Laura Salonen, an exchange student from Finland. As of Monday, Salonen was the number one singles player for the Cougars, and she was 4-0 in singles play - not losing a set so far this season.
Salonen has played tennis most of her life, playing nine months out of the year in her home country, Cougar coach Poul Carstensen said.
"Laura is a quality player who is very strong with all aspects of her game," he said, noting the tennis team may be gaining a new appreciation of the sport from a European standpoint.
The Cougars also have three players drafted from the spring modified program: Lexi Pratt, Sierra Liebelt, and Danielle Primeau, who played co-ed modified tennis in the Adirondack League program, Carstensen said.
"This will be a great experience for them, and I am very happy with the way the have played tennis at the modified level," Carstensen remarked. "They have worked hard over the last few years and have really improved all aspects of their game."
While Carstensen praised the players, area sports observers credit Carstensen for not only his expertise but his supportive, encouraging attitude that prompts the players to play their best - and enjoy every moment.
The team's stellar performance so far has occurred despite the loss of one of their most promising and talented players - Katie Staats, the Cougars' top singles player for the last two years, who moved out of the school district. Staats had been with the program since it began six years ago, Carstensen said.
The Cougars season opened Sept. 7, with a meet against South Glens Falls, and was the only loss the team incurred as of Monday, when the Cougars' record stood at 2-1-1. Their second meet was against Hudson Falls, and the Cougars won it 6-1. The third was against Greenwich, which the North Warren team won 4-3.
The girls tied Glens Falls Monday. This Thursday, Sept. 23, the team has a repeat match against South Glens Falls.