Boot camp helps Gateway tennis team prepare for season

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Friday, August 23, 2019 | 8:28 PM


Members of the Gateway girls tennis team are not in the military, but sure felt like that recently.

The Gators had a week of boot camp-style training, in which they started practice at 7 a.m. and worked on conditioning for an hour without lifting a racket.

Gateway second-year coach Kenny Nieser said it is part of changing the team culture and giving the Gators, who opened the season last week, a fighting chance.

“I like these girls,” said Nieser, a retired U.S. Navy reservist. “I hope we do a little better than last year.”

The Gators have only one senior, Erika Jackson, who moves between singles and doubles.

Junior Sriletha Sapram and sophomore Samantha Dilts play first and second singles.

Sophomores Neha Garlapati and Ankitha Sherigar are fourth and fifth in the lineup.

Other players are junior Ruth Miller and freshmen Lydia Nyugen, Amara Bristol, Jada Hill and Gabrielle Opaska.

Jackson, the captain, liked the training and said Nieser and assistant coach Montaire Taylor are great.

She said players did six laps around the court most of the week, which built stamina.

“It was helpful mentally because we had to push ourselves,” Jackson said.

Jackson, 17, looks forward to being a leader, a role that comes naturally to her.

“I have three younger sisters,” Jackson said.

Jackson said she would like to see the team become more of a family.

Gateway last made the WPIAL playoffs in the 2010-11 season.

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