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Richard senior Joe Pappas will serve as a co-captain for the 2014 Pioneers. News-Herald File Photo

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Catholic League 2014 boys' tennis preview PHOTO

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It was with a heavy heart that the Cabrini boys’ tennis team opened practice this year.

JR Muniz, who had headed up the program since 2010, passed away in late June after a long bout with cancer.

Stepping in as the new head coach this fall is Chip Shade, who had served as an assistant under Muniz.

“Obviously I can’t replace JR,” Shade said. “He’s more than just a tennis coach, he was a great person.”

Helping with the transition to head coaching, he said, has been a strong group of players who are enthusiastic for the new season to start.

Two of the players taking the court for the Monarchs this fall will be seniors Nathan Kress and Ben Trela. Shade the said the pair will battle it out between the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots.

Playing for the No. 3 and No. 4 singles spots will be sophomores Matt Hecmanczuk and Stuart Krzeminski.

At No. 1 doubles will be junior TJ Franklin and sophomore Noah Shade.

Other players who will compete for spots are sophomores Christopher Villalta, Matt Smith and Jeremiah Kastl, as well as freshman Greg Rouland.

Cabrini is scheduled to open its season Aug. 28 at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.


While the Richard roster is heavy on underclassmen this year, the squad features some returning players who could make a big impact.

Leading the way will be sophomore Will Gajda and senior Joe Pappas, who will serve as co-captains this fall.

Gajda will step into the No. 1 singles role after a freshman season that included a News-Herald “A” tournament flight championship and a regional title.

As of Aug. 20, Pioneers Coach Shane Holzworth said the team was still playing challenge matches, which would be used to decide spots in the lineup.

Juniors who are battling it out for spots are Gerard Grego, Jack Poslajko and Justin Wang.

Sophomores in the mix are Chris Brackney, Jon Donahey, Shawn Szpaichler, Trevor Rank, Jacob Hanoian and Joseph Loria, along with freshman Andrew Koziol.

The Pioneers are scheduled to open up Catholic League action on Sept. 3 with a match at Royal Oak Shrine.

Last Updated: 8/23/2014 6:02:51 PM EST