Heather Favale has big shoes to fill this fall.
After longtime Bolingbrook High School girls tennis team coach Sargy Letuchy resigned after last season, Favale was elevated from junior varsity coach to varsity coach.
Favale now has to shape a roster that lost seven seniors to graduation.
But Favale said she is energized by the talent she has on her 2010 squad, especially sophomore Nneka Onyejiaka, who earned the team's No. 1 singles rank as a freshman last season. Bloodlines bring bonuses, as Nneka's sister, junior Celina Onyejiaka, adds another valuable dimension to the Lady Raiders.
Nneka Onyejiaka said she hopes to qualify for the state finals in her sophomore campaign. Last season she advanced as far as the second round of the sectional playoffs.
"(My goals are) probably to get to state this time and just have more overall wins," she said. "I've been practicing my volleys more, slices, and my serve."
Favale appreciates Nneka Onyejiak's determination.
"She's a perfectionist, so she expects nothing but the best, of course, from herself," Favale said. "For her, a lot of it's strategy — being able to think ahead in terms of placement on the court."
Meanwhile, Favale hopes a pair of seniors—Annie Rollins and Jessica Ventura—can form a winning combination as a doubles team.
And while the pair haven't played together prior to this season, but they seem to be a good match, Favale said.
"They work well with each other," Favale said. "Jessica works well with Annie in terms of Annie's weaknesses are Jessica's strengths and Jessica's weaknesses are Annie's strengths. So they help each other out with that."
Bolingbrook's next match is Sept. 14 at home against Lincoln-Way East. Matches start at 4:30 p.m.