New coach Zach Smith takes reins for Baldwin girls tennis
Zach Smith, 29, has a proficient tennis background.
Baldwin’s new head coach played the sport for three years at Ringgold High School before attending Cal (Pa.) and Waynesburg.
He also served three years as a tennis pro at Camp Winadu, working with Pablo Montana, former Cal (Pa.) women’s coach and current Delaware State coach.
Smith was honored as the tennis counselor of the year at Camp Winadu, which is located in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts, in 2014.
He takes over a girls tennis program at Baldwin that includes five returning starters from last year’s WPIAL playoff squad.
“My goal as the new tennis coach (girls and boys) at Baldwin is to help young student-athletes learn the game of tennis and most importantly have fun, build strong competitive players, and create a program that helps the community as a whole,” said Smith, who teaches biology and other sciences at Ringgold.
The Highlanders’ returning starters consist of seniors Natalie Zgurich, Kelsey Murphy and Jenna Tarson, junior Bethany Yauch and sophomore Emma Sukal.
“I think this is a really strong group of girls with Bethany leading us at the No. 1 spot,” Zgurich said. “I think we need to start off strong. We have a good chance to beat every team with the lineup we have this year, so I think as long as everyone works hard we have a good chance of being competitive.”
Zgurich, who also plays slow-pitch softball, is sports editor of the school newspaper, an executive board officer for the Special Olympics club, and a member of the ASPIRE program.
“My main goal is to have a solid season in all aspects of my game,” Zgurich said. “I want to be a leader for this team, as well as a strong asset in helping us win.”
Rounding out this year’s squad are seniors Angelina Makhoul, Una Banovic and Julie Mainarich, plus freshman prospect Carly Kennard.
“This group of girls is amazing,” Smith said. “We have seven seniors and a large number of freshmen. I have gotten to know the girls through team bonding and conditioning.”
Following high school, Smith went to CCAC for nursing until he switched careers and attended Cal (Pa.), earning a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and biology/science. He also earned a master’s degree in special education from Waynesburg.
The affable Smith coached in the Ringgold softball program the past four years.
Baldwin’s junior varsity team is coached by Donna McCord, a math teacher in the school district.
There are 17 girls on the JV team, including two seniors, Bandhana Phuyal and Hannah Feth; three juniors, Maddie Rechtorik, Kathy Nguyen and Debea Sanjel; and two sophomores, Sara Banovic and Juliana Fedorko.
The freshman class is represented by Alexa Teter, Aishwarya Siwakoti, Neveen Khalil, Erin Woodburry-Hester, Coral Armbruster, Sofia Khatiwada, Meckenna Renwick, Jenna Fox, Abbey Herrie and Kaleigh Kimak.