Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Visitation Quartet Aims for Third Consecutive Title Exceptional Senior Class Is Undefeated since Freshman Year

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Visitation Quartet Aims for Third Consecutive Title Exceptional Senior Class Is Undefeated since Freshman Year

Article excerpt

Most string quartets are known for using their instruments to play classical music.

But a quartet of Visitation Academy girls use their strings to play a classical level of tennis.

Vivette seniors Jocelyn Koester, Briana Menolascino, Jana Haikal and Marielle Newell are back to try to extend their string of undefeated seasons.

After losing a heartbreaking match in the Class 1 finals as freshmen in 2009, the talented quartet rebounded with two consecutive undefeated seasons, culminating in state championships. The Vivettes defeated Bolivar 5-0 last season in the championship match.

"As freshmen, we came in a little nervous on the varsity team," said Koester, the team's No. 1 singles player, who has a state doubles crown and two second-place finishes in doubles. "But we have really grown close the last three years. We are a close-knit team which pushes each other to do well. I think we are getting better every year."

That does not bode well for any team hoping to prevent a happy ending to a memorable Vivette run.

"We are all good tennis players," said Menolascino, the team's No. 2 singles player, who teamed with Koester for the two second- place state finishes in doubles. "But to win a state title, you need to have the right mentality as well. This is more like a family than a team. We get along so well."

Koester realizes that every team will be gunning to take out the prohibitive favorite to win title No. 3.

"There is pressure for sure," Koester said. "But that pressure motivates us to work hard. It motivates us to prove that we are the team to beat."

Visitation coach Annie Menees knows well what it takes to be a winner. She was a three-time state singles champion at MICDS from 1998-2000.

"I've never known a group of girls from the same school, not to mention the same class, to be so outstanding and so supportive of each other," Menees said. "They have all come through for us at different moments when we have needed it. Each one seems to have an uncanny way of knowing when it is their turn to step up to the plate. …

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