Western Wayne is once again led by singles star Lenny Maiocco
Western Wayne's boys varsity tennis team has faced more than its fair share of challenges already this spring.
Rookie Head Coach Len Maiocco has taken the reins from veteran skipper Dante Terenzio, who left to teach at Bethlehem Liberty.
Maiocco inherited a very young team … one that's long on enthusiasm and athleticism, but short on skills and experience.
“It's a great group of kids,” he said. “Most of them haven't played a lot of tennis in the past, but they work hard and they're very coachable.”
Western Wayne is still searching for that elusive first win, having suffered four straight Lackawanna League losses to start off the 2019 campaign.
“We're a little bit low on numbers right now, but I'm hoping things improve as we go along,” said Coach Maiocco. “We've had some injuries and illness, so I've had to juggle the line-up the first few matches.”
Weather permitting, the Wildcats will be back on the court Wednesday for an away match at Riverside.
Net action gets underway at 4 p.m. in Taylor.
Western Wayne opened up its regular season with a 4-1 loss to Holy Cross.
The Wildcats followed that up with similar setbacks at the hands of Honesdale and Prep.
While the team is still searching for its overall identity, Lenny Maiocco is picking up right where he left off last spring.
Just a sophomore, Maiocco is the reigning Lackawanna League Player of the Year. Lenny burst onto the scene as a frosh, steamrolling his way to an undefeated regular season.
He then cruised to the District Two Class AA singles title, earning a berth at the PIAA state meet where he won his first match before finally being eliminated.
Maiocco closed out the 2018 campaign with a dazzling overall record of 21-1 (14-0 LL).
He's won each of his first three singles matches this year and appears poised to make another run at the district title.
“Lenny does pretty much everything well,” Coach Maiocco said of his son.
“He's got a big serve and a big forehand. Lenny's been playing for more than six years now, so he has a ton of experience. He's a baseliner, but he covers the whole court well, too.”
Maiocco anchors Western Wayne's starting line-up at first singles. When they're healthy, Mitchell Herzog, Kasen Taylor and Matt Leslie battle for the other singles spots.
Herzog is a multi-sport standout who also excels on the wrestling mat. Mitchell is the lone senior in the starting line-up. He's a fiery competitor who leads on and off the court.
“His biggest strength is that he always hustles,” Coach Maiocco said.
“Mitchell never gives up on a point. He just flies all over the place. He's definitely one of the most improved players around.”
Taylor is another wrestler who's come late to the tennis world. An athletic sophomore, Kasen is quickly picking up the finer points of the sport.
“He's come a long way in a very short amount of time,” said Coach Maiocco.
Leslie is another sophomore who's also made a name for himself as a member of the wrestling team. Matt is a scrappy and versatile player.
“He fills in whenever he can,” Coach Maiocco said. “If Matt were with us full time, he'd probably be our number two singles guy.”
Junior Mike Devore has shown promise as well and figures to see significant action at number three.
While Western Wayne will likely continue to struggle until the roster fills out, Coach Maiocco is unabashedly optimistic about the future.
“If we can keep this group together, we're going to be a force the next couple of years,” he said. “I'm very excited to be working with these kids and I can't wait to see what they can do.”
Heading into midweek action, Abington Heights, Scranton Prep and Valley View were tied atop the Lackawanna League standings with undefeated records.
The Comets are defending champs coming off a 12-2 regular season and a run to the District Two Class AAA title.
The Cavaliers went 13-1 in the league, but then lost a heartbreaker to Dallas in the 2018 Class AA finals.
Western Wayne qualified for districts in each of the past two seasons, but the 'Cats came up just a bit short in their gold medal quest.
“We have a ways to go,” Coach Maiocco admitted. “But, if we stay focused and keep working hard, I think we'll be right back in it before too long.”