Penn College tennis teams set to open

Published 03.17.2019

Wildcat Weekly

Even though she only has been with her teams just a few weeks after being named the interim coach, Jessica Bower is pleased with what she has seen as the Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s and women’s tennis teams prepare for their spring openers.

The season begins for the men’s team with a nonconference match at Elmira College at 1 p.m. Saturday and it starts for the women’s team with a North Eastern Athletic Conference match at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 29.

Bower, the simulation lab coordinator in the Nursing Department at Penn College, played on the collegiate level at both Wilkes University, where she won a Middle Atlantic Conference doubles title, and Lycoming College, and is a member of the Williamsport Women’s Tennis League. She succeeds John Machak, who resigned as coach over the winter to become the head coach of the Lock Haven University women’s team. While at Penn College, Machak’s men’s teams were 10-20 overall in two and a half seasons and his women’s teams were 3-27. Last spring, Machak was named the NEAC men’s co-coach of the year.

"Both teams have been working hard in the gym, since the weather has been a barrier to getting outside to play,” Bower said. "We have been working out by doing high-intensity drills in the gym. They have been working on conditioning to build up endurance for the season. Both teams have shown me that they are willing to put in the work that is needed to improve their performance. I also know that some of them have continued playing in the offseason to assure their spot in the starting lineup.”

The key returning players from last year’s men’s squad that finished 7-7 overall, 4-2 in all NEAC matches, are senior Stephen Helminiak, of Williamsport, who was first team All-NEAC at No. 6 singles and a first team All-NEAC honoree at No. 3 doubles; sophomore Will DeMarco, of Glen Mills, who was second team All-NEAC at No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles; and juniors Luke Whitenight, of Berwick, and Blake Whitmire, of Shickshinny, who were third team All-NEAC at No. 1 doubles a year ago.

They are vying for singles and doubles starting positions with freshman Tucker Phillippe-Johansson, of Mattituk, New York; senior Nico Pascual, of Doylestown; freshman Tommy Cavanaugh, of New Hope; junior Evan Engelhard, of Newark Valley; and sophomores Darien Hively, of Montoursville, and Joey Morrin, of Morrisville.

“I feel that the men’s team is very strong. The top four (Whitenight, Whitmire, Phillippe-Johansson and DeMarco) are heavy hitters and can do some damage with their serve," Bower said. "I feel that the men have the skills and mental toughness to go far this season.”

During an abbreviated fall season, the men’s team finished 1-2.

Senior Emily Bell, of Jersey Shore, leads the women’s squad that was 1-12 overall and 1-4 in the NEAC last year when Bell earned a third team All-NEAC spot at No. 4 singles. The Wildcats are coming off an 0-3 fall season.

Filling out the singles positions in addition to Bell will be sophomore Amber Janelli, of Denver; freshman Alexis Youse, of Pottsville; sophomore Cassie Shook, of Williamsport; and freshmen Marcie Harman, of Nescopeck; Deidre Slattery, of Shippensburg; and Paige Benner, of Lewistown.

Doubles teams will consist of Bell-Janelli, Youse-Shook and Harman-Slattery.

“The women are working on gaining strength and consistency and then they will be able to string together some games/sets and work on winning individual matches,” Bower said.

“Both teams need to continue to work on building endurance and consistency. Tennis is a sport where consistency can beat out a heavy hitter by carefully placing shots and being a backboard by getting to and returning everything hit to you,” the coach said.

“This spring will be about getting to know each other and building each other up. I feel that the players are all great people and we will need to work together as a team. Since we are fairly young we are all working out the kinks and finding our niche. As we continue to get closer to the first match, we will solidify our final spot on the men’s roster and find the best combination for doubles. The women will continue to work hard and fight for their first win,” Bower continued.

“I am pleased with where we are on the preseason polls since we are young: third for men and fourth for women. We have some work to do, but I believe that both teams can show that we are more than worthy of those predictions,” Bower said.

In the men’s poll, defending champion Penn State Berks had 16 points, followed by Penn State Abington 11, Penn College 10, Lancaster Bible College 9 and College of St. Elizabeth 4.

Penn State Abington topped the women’s poll with 15 points, followed by defending champ Penn State Berks 13, Lancaster Bible College 11, Penn College 6 and College of St. Elizabeth 5.

Assessing what she brings to the team, in addition to her tennis experience, Bower said, “I am a nurse and, more specifically, have spent half of my nursing career as a psychiatric nurse so I am able to effectively communicate with people and get them to believe in themselves. I think this experience will help me in my coaching abilities as being able to help the players with their mental toughness and helping them to believe in themselves and that they are capable of winning matches.”

Reaching the halfway point in their spring training trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Wildcats lost on Monday to The Catholic University of America, 15-3. Jacob Carles, of Bernville, led Penn College with two hits. Wildcats’ starting pitcher Trevor Dolin, of New Bloomfield, took the loss after giving up eight runs, seven earned, in 4 innings.

On Tuesday against Stockton University, Penn College dropped games by the scores of 4-2 and 16-5. In the first game, the Wildcats led 2-0 after two innings when Rylan Whitmyer, of Williamsport, plated both runs with a double before Stockton came back. Starting pitcher Devon Sanders, of Bloomsburg, went six innings and took the loss. In the second game, Penn College built an early four-run lead before Stockton tied the score in the fourth inning and broke it open with a nine-run fifth.

Facing Wells College on Wednesday, a North Eastern Athletic Conference opponent that they won’t play during the regular season this year, the Wildcats erupted for a 13-0 win — their first of the season — snapping a six-game loss string. Pitcher Nathan Holt, of Shippensburg, went the nine-inning distance tossing the three-hit shutout while striking out nine and walking two. Brittan Kittle, of Millville, led the Penn College offense going 3 for 4, including two doubles, with four runs batted in and four runs scored. Colton Riley, of Danville, had three hits in a 16-hit attack and drove in two runs.

Wrapping up its time in South Carolina on Thursday against Centenary (New Jersey) University, Penn College closed out a 2-6 trip with an 11-2 win. Samuel Zeigler, of Palmyra, had four hits while Carles, Kittle and Cole Hofmann, of Newtown, each had three hits in the Wildcats’ 18-hit assault. Carles, with two doubles, and Zeigler, who had one, each drove in two runs. Pitcher Cody Nelson, of South Williamsport, went seven innings and picked up the win.

At the end of the week, the combined record of teams that Penn College lost to was 26-11.

Taking the field for the first time this season on Monday in the Fastpitch Dreams Classic in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Penn College lost to Spalding University of Kentucky, 2-0, and Albertus Magnus College, 12-6. Against Spalding, pitcher Morgan Heritage, of New Castle, Delaware, struck out 11 and Taylor Krow, of Mechanicsburg, had two Penn College hits, including a double. Against Albertus Magnus, starting Wildcats pitcher Sarah Woodruff, of Port Jervis, New York, was charged with seven runs in two-thirds of an inning and an early 8-0 deficit was too much to overcome. Krow went 3 for 4 hitting.

In action on Tuesday, Penn College dropped its first game to Carin University, 7-6, before falling to Shawnee State University, 9-0 in five innings. Against Carin, Chelsea Gray, of Marysville, went 3 for 3 while Krow and Emily Wikane, of Bel Air, Maryland, each drove in two runs. Heritage, who fanned seven in four innings, took the loss. The Wildcats stranded 12 base runners and committed five errors. Against Shawnee State, Penn College was held to one hit. Pitcher Kassidy Svenson, of Auburn, went 1 innings and took the loss.

After an off-day Wednesday, the Wildcats got their first wins of the campaign on Thursday, beating Norwich University, 7-2, and Dean College, 7-1. Against Norwich, Taylor Brooks, of Cogan Station, went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Gray also had two RBIs. Heritage went the seven-inning distance on the mound and picked up her first win. Against Dean, Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem, tossed a three-hit masterpiece, striking out 14, and aided her own cause by going 2 for 2 at the plate with a run scored and one run batted in.

Right back in action against Dean College on Friday, Penn College posted a 13-2, six-inning win before topping Medaille College, 10-7, to end a 4-4 trip to North Myrtle Beach. In the first game, four Wildcats had two hits and Krow, Brooks and Elizabeth Asher, of East Stroudsburg, each finished with two RBIs – Brooks’ came on a triple – while Kayla Christopher, of Northampton, went 3⅓ innings to get the mound win. Against Medaille, Penn College had a four-run first and five-run third inning in support of Heritage on the mound, who evened her record at 2-2. Olivia Hemstock, of Northford, Connecticut, went 3-for-4 hitting with two runs scored and a RBI for the Wildcats while Asher was 2 for 4 with four RBIs.

At the end of the week, the combined record of teams that Penn College lost to was 22-11.

Two wrestlers academic honorees
Junior Dylan Otis, of Wyalusing, and sophomore Dylan Gettys, of Etters, were named National Wrestling Coaches Association Academic All-Americans.

To be eligible, a wrestler must have at least a 3.2 GPA, have a minimum .500 win/loss record, competed in half of the scheduled matches and placed in the top eight at the regional tournament. This year, 264 wrestlers, representing 83 schools, were honored.

Otis, who also was honored last year, placed fourth at heavyweight at the NCAA Division III Southeast Regional. Gettys finished sixth at 174 at the regional.

Overall: 2-6
NEAC: 0-0
Monday, March 11 – vs. The Catholic University of America at Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 15-3
Tuesday, March 12 – vs. Stockton University (2) at Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 4-2, L, 16-5
Wednesday, March 13 – vs. Wells College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 13-0
Thursday, March 14 – vs. Centenary, N.J., University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 11-2
Saturday, March 23 – at Washington College (2), 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 26 – at Lebanon Valley College, 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 27 – at Penn State Harrisburg, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 30 – host Lancaster Bible College (NEAC, 2), 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 31 – host Lancaster Bible College (NEAC), noon

Overall: 4-4
NEAC: 0-0
Monday, March 11 – vs. Spalding, Ky., University at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 2-0
Monday, March 11— vs. Albertus Magnus College at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 12-6
Tuesday, March 12 – vs. Cairn University at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 7-6
Tuesday, March 12 – vs. Shawnee State University at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., L, 9-0, 5 innings
Thursday, March 14 – vs. Norwich University at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 7-2
Thursday, March 14 – vs. Dean College at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 7-1
Friday, March 15 – vs. Dean College at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 13-2 in 6 innings
Friday, March 15 – vs. Medaille College at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., W, 10-7
Friday, March 22 – host Keystone College (2) at Elm Park, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 – host SUNY Pottsdam (2) at Elm Park, 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 30 – host Penn State Berks (NEAC, 2) at Elm Park, 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 31 – at Penn State Harrisburg (2), 1 p.m.

Men’s Tennis
Overall: (1-2 fall)
NEAC: 0-0
Saturday, March 23 – at Elmira College, 1 p.m.
Friday, March 29 – at Lancaster Bible College (NEAC), 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 30 – at Penn State Berks (NEAC), 11 a.m.
Sunday, March 31 – at Misericordia University, noon
Saturday, April 6 – host College of St. Elizabeth (NEAC), noon
Sunday, April 7 – host Penn State Abington (NEAC), 11 a.m.
Saturday, April 13 – host Marywood University, 1 p.m.
Thursday-Friday, April 25-26 – NEAC Championships at Birchwood Tennis Center, Clarks Summit

Women’s Tennis
Overall: (0-3 fall)
NEAC: 0-0
Friday, March 29 – at Lancaster Bible College (NEAC), 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 30 – at Penn State Berks (NEAC), 11 a.m.
Sunday, March 31 – at Misericordia University, noon
Saturday, April 6 – host College of St. Elizabeth (NEAC), noon
Sunday, April 7 – host Penn State Abington (NEAC), 11 a.m.
Saturday, April 13 – host Marywood University, 1 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, April 26-27 – NEAC Championships at Birchwood Tennis Center, Clarks Summit

Monday, April 1 – at Lebanon Valley College, noon
Saturday-Sunday, April 6-7 – Susquehanna Invitational at Susquehanna Valley Country Club, TBA
Wednesday, April 10 – at Keuka College, 10 a.m.
Tuesday, April 16 – at Gettysburg College, 12:30 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, April 27-28 – NEAC Championships at Foxchase Golf Club, Stevens

Saturday-Sunday, April 13-14 – Adam Wheatcroft Memorial/U.S. Archery East Regionals at James Madison University
Thursday-Sunday, May 16-19 – U.S. National Outdoor Collegiate Championships at Darree Fields Park, Dublin, Ohio.

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

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