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Young Palisades team hangs tough in season-opening loss

For the Palisades girls tennis team this season, it is about growth for a young club.
“We just want to see some progress from now until October,” said first-year head coach Jeff Opp. “It is about competing and improving. We lost five seniors from last year’s club, so this will be a different year to start.”
“I just don’t want the girls to get down if we should have some losses along the way. But they have been working hard and can gain some confidence along the way.”
On Monday, the Pirates dropped their opener, 4-1, to Notre Dame-Green Pond. Zohra Mekki, the team’s lone senior, teamed with freshman Cora Anderson to pick up the victory in second doubles.
Anderson’s mother, Kathy, is a former Palisades head coach and current Quakertown head coach.
“We were in all of our matches (against Notre Dame),” added Opp. “I thought we could have pulled out a couple more. This wasn’t a bad beginning for us.”
Opp is no stranger to the Palisades scene, as he was an assistant coach for six seasons. He also has been involved with the boys basketball program and is a teacher in the school system.
He has made the adjustment in this unorthodox COVID-19 sports calendar year.
“We just have been very careful with the equipment and have worn masks as much as possible,” he said. “(Athletic director) Brian Gilbert has done a great job guiding and advising us. The parents have been wonderful and supportive, and that’s also made my life easier.”
Juniors Katherine Kelly, Mary Aherne and Allie Wenskoski are playing one, two and three singles respectively. They are among five juniors on the eight-player roster. Jasmine Catanzaro is the other freshman on the roster.
“We’re looking for leadership from Katherine and Mary,” said Opp. “Allie is probably the best athlete on the team, and this is only her second year playing. She (Wenskoski) made the jump from doubles to singles.
“Both Cora (Anderson) and Jasmine have very bright futures.”
The Pirates traveled to Jim Thorpe Thursday and will have 10 more matches on their schedule before the league tournament begins Oct. 1.
“It will be busy for us,” stated Opp. “There are weeks when we have three matches. We have five juniors who can make their mark and be a solid senior class next year. We just want to work on becoming a better team throughout the season.”