Last year’s Flagler Palm Coast Lady Bulldogs tennis team was led by two exchange students, one senior and then-sophomore Emily Acierno. Though Acierno is the only returning player to this season’s team, first-year coach Deann Palmer is excited for what it can achieve.
The Lady Bulldogs are currently 1-2 but have a packed schedule of tough matches in March.
Acierno, a junior this season, is the team’s No. 1 player. She is currently 3-0. She will team up with No. 2 player Madison Gibbs, a sophomore, as the team’s No. 1 doubles.
Carly Esposito (No. 3), a junior, will partner with Mary Catherine Fanning (No. 4), a sophomore, as the team’s second doubles team.
The Lady Bulldogs have three juniors and two sophomores in their top five, and Palmer said losing three of last season’s top five players has given other girls the chance to play.
Palmer said the team’s strengths are returning serves, powerful hits and “a real love for the game.”
“They all enjoy playing so much, which makes it more enjoyable for them,” Palmer said.
However, Palmer said the team lacks a “mental toughness.”
“I am working with the girls to be able to shake off a missed serve, a bad hit, or even a loss,” she said. “They need to focus on staying focused the entire match.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Emily Acierno, Jr.: The team’s best returning player. She’s currently 3-0 and is off to another strong start.
Madison Gibbs, Soph.: First season as the Lady Bulldogs’ No. 2 player. Her coach said her “love and knowledge” of the game will help her have a successful season.
Mary Catherine Fanning, Soph.: “One of the most positive, calm and collected players,” according to her coach. Although a sophomore, she brings a lot of maturity to the team.