A report by serveandvolleytennis.com indicated that nearly 18 million athletes play tennis at some capacity.
In fact, it is the fourth most popular sport in the world, according to worldatlas.com.
It’s a safe bet the Aurora girls tennis team won’t contest those figures.
The sport that requires a racket and a fairly small, fluorescent spherical object is flourishing on West Pioneer Trail.
Since the surplus is so overwhelming, 13th-year head coach Dania Rinicella had to do something unimaginable in her previous years.
She had to say no to several eager young ladies.
"We had a record number of 30 players try out," Rinicella said. "We had to cut it down to 19."
The new digs may have something to do with this new racket-waving craze. Rinicella said the construction of new tennis courts are expected to be completed by the end of the month.
They probably won’t be unoccupied too often.
"I’m excited for the season and all the talent that this team has shown me during the first two weeks," Rinicella said.
The Greenmen, who finished 7-9 overall and 3-3 in the Suburban League American Conference in 2018, lost just two seniors to graduation. They are Mia Bizjak, who was part of Aurora’s second doubles team that captured the American Conference tournament championship, and Bella Burdick.
Depth is the least of Rinicella’s concerns. Her own version of "The Magnificent Seven" should serve plenty of aces throughout the season.
This list includes Dottie Horvat, who played first singles last year;and Olivia French, who joined Bizjak on the conference champion second doubles team. Seniors Krista Guerini and Diana Abbass are first-year varsity players..
Rinicella said first-year varsity sophomore Juliana Malinowski is expected to play second singles and junior Norah O’Callaghan is expected to anchor the third singles’ spot.
As for doubles, French plans to continue her stellar doubles’ play.
Guerini and Abbass are expected to rotate at first or second doubles and junior Quincy Bizjak plans to compete in both singles and doubles.
Also vying for varsity time will be junior Morgan Viant and sophomore Olivia Salupo.
"All the girls have worked extremely hard on their games and it showed during tryouts," Rinicella said. "Everyone is feeling confident and strong going into the season. I’m excited not only to watch the varsity, but the JV girls, as well."
Some key members of the junior varsity team include juniors Macy Metzger, Aniya West and Cat Taylor; sophomore Maddie Yanoff; and freshmen Lulu McGhee, Lily Gossett and Katie Cogley.
The JV coach is Angie Lewis, who enters her third year with the team.
"The JV team will continue to grow stronger and stronger after each match," Rinicella said. "In all my years of coaching at Aurora, I’ve never had so much talent on my JV team at every position."
Highland won both the 2018 American Conference regular-season and tournament titles. Aurora, which finished fourth at last year’s conference tournament, can contend with anyone, according to Rinicella.
"I look for the varsity to be competitive in the league against all opponents this year," she said.
"I think we have put together a great group of ladies that enjoy each other, love the game and work hard 100 percent of the time."
The Greenmen are scheduled to open their 2019 season against Jackson Aug. 20 in Massillon. Play is set to begin at 4 p.m.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.