The Bunnell High girls tennis captains are, from left, Mikaela Puzzo, Carrie Lutian, and Keane Alindato. (Contributed photo)

SEASON PREVIEW: Bunnell girls tennis is learning a lot on and off the court

STRATFORD—Bunnell High girls tennis coach Dave Makowicki found tennis late in life.

Now, in his role as overseer of the Bulldogs program, he hopes to help pass along that affection for the game to his players, along with a plethora of other life lessons student-athletes can learn from their chosen sports arenas.

“I took up the sport formally when I was 50 and I’m 62 now,” Mackowicki said. “I’m hoping to help them develop a sport they can play for a lifetime to enhance their own wellness.”

But that’s not all.

Competing in the SWC, which features some of the best girls tennis programs in the entire state, it’s tough for the Bulldogs to aim for league and/or state championships.

So Bunnell’s goals, in the grand scheme of things, are even bigger than that.

“I look at our goals first as personal growth and character development for each player, both on and off the court,” Mackowicki said. “It’s a great opportunity for the girls to be withi a group where they can personally focus on doing those things. That’s our first goal.

“The second goal for our team,” the coach added, “is to really develop into a team where all players feel valued, confident in their role and find satisifaction in participating in our program.”

In doing so, the Bulldogs also learn the art of playing tennis.

“We are a program that really develops tennis players,” Mackowicki said. “Pretty much all of our kids that come to us have no formal tennis experience. We have to develop players and get them to the varsity level.”

This year’s edition of Bulldogs tennis features 15 players.

The team’s tri-captains are Mikaela Puzzo, Carrie Lutian, and Keane Alindato. They are joined by returning players Lucy Li, Sandy Barrios, and Amari Campfield.

The Bulldogs will also look to a trio of newcomers to play a role on the varsity level, including Sarah Khouja, Emma Stauber, and Kelsey Ponce.

Also, on the roster are: Kerina Mandi, Maria Lisi, Maria Oliva, Sara Federici, Sophia Bisogno, and Zahira Ijaz Butt.

Mackowicki also had volunteer assistant coach Beth Benson at his disposal. She’s been with the Bulldogs for 12 years.

“She provides to the girls unending encouragement and support, exceptional tennis instruction and skill development, and is an outstanding role model,” said Mackowick, who is ready to make sure once again that his Bunnell girls tennis team learns everything it can about the sport along with a lot more life lessons, as well.

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