PHILADELPHIA — Alexis Cruz is making the most of her return to Indian River and looking to cap her tennis career off with a spectacular senior season.
The Warriors’ top single player is looking to repeat her stellar junior season when she reached the Section 3 state open qualifier and delivered a third-place showing at the Section 3 Division II tournament. She returned to Indian River after living in Fort Riley (Kansas) and Fort Sill (Oklahoma) as her father, Michael, is in the military.
“It’s nice to be back home,” Cruz said. “I was here the first eight years of my life before going to Kansas and Oklahoma.”
Cruz honed her tennis skills in Kansas where the conditions involve warmer temperatures than in Northern New York. The weather forces her to think more about her shot selection.
“The wind is a very big factor and having to adjust is one of the bigger issues in my game,” Cruz said.
She’s even taken some of those tips and passed them on to her team and coaches. Fifth-year coach Alyssa Sidmore has even taken a few suggestions from her.
“For her to come in and give me some pointers and helpful hints has been great and it’s improved our team overall,” Sidmore said.
Cruz’s ability to make the Division II semifinals drew notice as she went against players from the Syracuse area, including from powers such as Jamesville-DeWitt, New Hartford and Whitesboro.
“It’s a big deal because they play year-round,” Sidmore said. “They play indoor, they play outdoor and they see a lot harder competition.”
Her sectional run has given her a lot of motivation for the season. She’s been working on her game and playing in other tournaments against older and more experienced competition.
“I know just the couple Watertown-based tournament that I do against grown-ups helps,” Cruz said.
She’ll be counted on to lead a Warriors team that will have a few new faces due to graduation. Indian River features only five returnees in a large lineup with many still learning the game. Sidmore can rely on Cruz to help the younger and inexperienced players.
“She’s somebody I can lean on and start stretches if I’m running behind to practice,” Sidmore said. “She just does a great job of being a leader on and off the court.”
The Warriors have possessed strong first singles players in the last few seasons with Cruz and Alexzha Garcia. Sidmore said that’s one less thing she needs to worry about when she’s filling positions.
“The mentality right now is trying to figure out who’s going to second singles and third singles,” Sidmore said. “I know Cruz is going to do a great job and I shouldn’t have to worry about it.”
The Frontier League will be wide open due to the graduation of many top players from both the “A” and “B” Division. Indian River, Immaculate Heart, South Jefferson and Carthage lost many key players in the “A” Division.
I’m not sure what I’m expecting this year,” Cruz said. “A lot of people have graduated so I don’t know what I’m looking forward to.”
A look at this year’s teams:
Outlook: Graduation has changed the landscape as Carthage, Indian River, South Jefferson and division champions Immaculate Heart lost plenty of talented players. The Comets lost four starters, but have Gia Doldo at first singles. IHC picked up plenty of team and individual honors last season, but will offer a whole new lineup. The Cavaliers’ Armeet Aujula returns after reaching last year’s Section 3 state qualifying tournament. South Jefferson will return Hannah Babcock, but field a mostly different lineup. Watertown will rely on IHC transfer Lilly Renzi to help bolster the team.
Coach: Erin Gallagher (6th season)
2018 record: (1-8 league and overall)
Roster: Jocelyn Bura (Sr.), Martina Bellosi (Sr.), Gia Doldo (Sr.), Kiannah Sadler (Sr.), Sally Sanders (Sr.), Macee Trudeau (Sr.), Tamar Umekashvili (Sr.), Patricia Vanlue (Sr.), Clara Benson (Jr.), Hannah Boshart (Jr.), Rose Brown (Jr.), Isabelle Chambers (Jr.), Andrea Fulmer (Jr.), Morgan Gill (Jr.), Claire O’Connor (Jr.), Makenzie Riggs (Jr.), Madilin Santamour (So.), Anna Scott (So.), Rebecca Steiner (So.), Paige Booth (Fr.), Grace Highers (Fr.).
Coach: Rich Snow (10th year)
2018 record: (11-1, 10-0)
Roster: Brianna Laube (Sr.), Kennedy Lawler (Sr.), Armeet Aujla (Jr.), Bridget Doherty (Jr.), Sarah Kamide (Jr.), Raphaela Harrienger (So.), Samantha Booth (7th)
Indian River Warriors
Coach: Alyssa Sidmore (5th year)
2018 record: (8-4, 7-3)
Roster: Alexis Cruz, Kirsten Cruz, Cassidy Deuink, Madison Favret, Ryleigh Fleming, Samantha Johnson, Alyvia Leopold, Kendra Marshall, Madalyn Maynard, Sierra-Grace Mok, Tristen Narrow, Sydney O’Melia, Alexi Reichel, JayLynn Robinson, Madison Staples, Chelsea Stone, Caitlyn Watts
South Jefferson Spartans
Coach: Pat Bassett (5th year)
2018 record: (8-4, 8-3)
Roster: Hannah Babcock, Lauren Biggs, Ashlyn Burt, Jillian Hare, Abigail Hudson, Morgan Keeney, Ruby LaClair, Hannah Mills, Mia Mouaikel, Madison Schultz, Bre Thomas, Lia Tyrell, Gabby Varcadipane, Rylie Wilson.
Coach: Brian Morrison (15th year)
2018 record: (2-9, 2-7)
Roster: Emily Ortiz (Sr.), Gina Simensen (Sr.), Vatressa Teamoh (Sr.), Ereen Guanlao (Jr.), Maria Netto (Jr.), Grace Phelps (Jr.), Suzanna Rainbolt (Jr.), Olivia Ritz (Jr.), Sophia Voss (Jr.), Anna Keneep (So.), Lilly Renzi (So.), Maya Voss (8th).
Outlook: Lowville graduated all seven starters and begins from scratch after losing 13 of 17 players. General Brown hopes Maria Covey can fill graduated Krysta Stupp’s role at first singles. Caitlynn Woodward steps into the first singles role on a Beaver River team also putting together a new lineup. Copenhagen has returning players such as Shannon Aubin, Samantha Aubin and Emma Spaulding.
Beaver River Beavers
Coach: Rachael Moshier (2nd year)
2018 record: (6-6, 5-4).
Roster: Jaiden Aucter, Halle Clement, Sierra Hickox, Riley Hoppel, Failyn Locklear, McKenna Mahoney, Hailie Merry, Hope McIntosh, Jaymie Monnat, Rachel O’Brien, Trudy Tabolt, Caitlynn Woodward
Copenhagen Golden Knights
Coach: Juli Hebert (9th year)
Roster: Samantha Aubin (Sr.), Shannon Aubin (Sr.), Olivia Breyette (Sr.), Shyla Rumble (Sr.), Emma Spaulding (Sr.), Darby Murray (Jr.), Riley Pierce (Jr.), Emma Spaulding (Jr.), Peyton Walker (Jr.), Courtney Johnston (Jr.), Olivia Gazlay (7th).
General Brown Lions
Coach: Will Covey (10th year)
2018 record: (0-11)
Roster: Jamie Biggers (Sr.), Maria Covey (Sr.), Brenda Furchak (Sr.), Nicole Lee (Sr.), Jenny Robinson (Sr.), Madison Blackwell (Jr.), Willow Boyce (Jr.), RaeAnne Chisamore-Veator (Jr.), Hannah Froedtert (Jr.), Emma-Leigh Gilligan (Jr.), Brianna LaRose (So.), Skie Peets (So.), Natalie Sheen (So.), Karissa Hart (Fr.), Olivia Kirch (7th).
Lowville Red Raiders
Coach: Jim Rhodes (21st year)
2018 record: (11-2, 9-1)
Roster: Gabby Frappier (Sr.), Nicole Freeman (Sr.), Natalie Thomas (Jr.), Anna Western (Jr.), Jenna Freeman (So.), Isabelle Lovenduski (So.), Morgan Nortz (So.), Anna Exford (Fr.), Annabella LaPuma (8th).
the cruz file
Other sports: Volleyball
Parents: Michael (father); Sara (mother)
Siblings: Jordan (brother); Gabriella (sister)
Clubs: Club volleyball
College plans: Wants to major in physical education