Out with the old in with the new JV tennis coach

Hannah DiDio '25, Staff Writer

The Girls JV team poses for a photo after coming second in the MAC tournament. Students featured in the stadning row from left to right are Margot Murphy ’23, Brigid Williams ’25, Addi Lalonde ’25, Mira Haurani ’25, and Tenley Stiyer ’25. Sitting row from left to right includes Maddy Youngblood ’25, Sarafina Melhem ’23, Francesca Soave ’24, Lexi Rieth ’23 and Grace Curtis ’24. Photo courtesy of the JV Tennis Team.

The Girls JV tennis team is approaching their season quickly and many girls are on the courts preparing for their upcoming season. Paula Cornwall has been the JV coach since 2008 but an opportunity arises for new tennis coach Marella Diakonov. The varsity coach decided to replace Paula Cornwall with Marella Diakonov. Diakonov is one of the owners of the tennis house where the varsity coach is employed.

With the connection between Diakonov and Mark Sobieralski, she was able to take the position as the girls JV coach.

“One of the biggest things for me taking this position would be that it is one of my goals to coach a girls team and I am thankful for the opportunity that Mark gave me,” said Diakonov.

The team had great success last year, placing second at the MAC tournament. Cornwall was really able to see how the girls progressed from the start of the season to the final match.

“All my years people have gotten along. We’ve never had issues on JV. People really make an effort to get to know each other and get along really well. We spend a lot of time on that and we spend a lot of time on deciding who’s going to partner with who, and who complements each other,” Cornwall said.

The team spends a lot of time bonding before the season begins. They did a lot of pasta parties and different activities to bond. With a new coach and new players Diakonov plans on creating a lot of camaraderie exercises and just have the girls be friends with each other.

“Last year the team was really fun and everybody was really supportive and nice to each other. I was able to create strong friendships and this year I hope to create even stronger bonds with some of the girls and just have a fun time and progress my tennis skills,” said JV tennis player Lilly Irby ’25.

Some of the girls on the team are practicing before the season starts and are practicing at Court4. Diakonov was able to meet some of the girls that are playing and is excited to meet the team officially.

“I want to develop the girls into good tennis players where they have a goal to get on to the varsity team, where they aren’t just stuck in the JV route for four years. Developing skills is very important, I want the girls to come out feeling like they’re playing better and then they want to continue playing throughout the year,” Diakonov said.

Both Cornwall and Diakonov value the relationships the girls have on the team and creating a good environment for the team is very important. On JV people really make an effort to get to know each other and get along really well.

“We spend a lot of time together because when the team has a strong bond it improves our playing. When the team is working together and everyone is on the same page, it makes us a stronger team,” Lilly Irby ’25 said.