Badminton: Lockport ready to take the next stepLockport badminton player Hannah Hollatz during practice Friday, March 9, 2012.. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 13, 2012 8:22PM
Guiding a young, talented team last season, Lockport coach Denise Hadley focused on the fundamentals of the sport.
This season, as the Porters return nine of their top 10 players from a year ago, Hadley has ramped it up a bit, and Lockport already is ahead of the game.
“With such a young team, we worked a lot on the basics,” Hadley said. “We tried to show the right way to be a lot better (as players). This year we’ve continued where we left off, and we’re much further ahead than we were at this point. It’s not just the basics. It’s the fine points of badminton.”
Looking to win the program’s first conference title since the 2007-08 season, the strength of this Porters team will no doubt be doubles play. State qualifier Lisa Miotti is gone, but the returning players are set to step up.
Having played with Miotti last season and winning three matches at state, Becca Krzyszkowski will team with Amy Benes at No. 1 doubles.
“Becca has gotten a little stronger, and they should be a pretty strong team,” Hadley said. “Amy does a nice job playing with Becca, and they are both hard hitters.”
Hadley expects Jorie Gorski and Hannah Hollatz to play at No. 2 doubles, but Allison Mintari remains in the mix as the lineup continues to develop.
“Hannah didn’t like playing doubles at first, but she’s a better doubles player,” Hadley said. “She has quick reactions and is very strong, and she really likes doubles now.”
Juniors Kelly Miotti (Lisa’s sister) and Sara Napoli are Lockport’s top two singles players. Filling out the Porters lineup will be senior leader Lauren Cralle, to go with a deep junior class that includes Carlie Cisarik, Rachel Budz, Sydney Baltrusaitis, Kimmy Nakutis, Jane Kolacki and Andrea Palac.
“The juniors this year were able to come up to varsity as sophomores, and they worked hard at it,” Hadley said. “We’ve got an idea what they’re working with.”
That experience will be needed as the Porters attempt to navigate through the SouthWest Suburban, one of the state’s toughest badminton conferences.
If Lockport hopes to regain the Blue title, the Porters will have to go through defending conference and state team champion Sandburg. Duals vs. Andrew and Plainfield North loom on the schedule, as well as quadrangulars at Lyons, Andrew, York, Homewood-Flossmoor and Hinsdale South.
As Hadley explains, the tough schedule is a sink-or-swim opportunity for the team.
“If we’re not ready for it, I love getting beat up,” Hadley said. “Play better opponents, and you get better. They catch on quick. I’m a drill master, but competition is better than drills because you’re learning while competing.”