Carmela Mostardi qualified for the Division II district tournament as a freshman.
Since then, she’s accomplished a lot, including winning the Lorain County Athletic Administrators Association and West Shore Conference tournaments and helping the Avon Eagles claim their first West Shore Conference championship last season.
A return trip to districts, however, has eluded her.
Now a senior, Mostardi is ready to change that.
“I’m hoping to keep up with both the WSC and LCAAA reigns and see if I could make it to districts and states for this year,” said Avon’s co-captain and first singles player, who has won the WSC title two years in a row.
The last two seasons, as Avon moved up to Division I, coach Robin Aston paired Mostardi with fellow senior Megan Monroe as a doubles team for the postseason. Both times, they came up short.
“Me and my partner trained together a little bit before, and last year, we didn’t do it at all,” she said. “We moved up divisions, so it was a lot tougher. The other teams were outsmarting us. It’s mostly due to us being frustrated.”
But Rich Mostardi, former Avon Lake tennis coach and her dad, has another theory.
“This is the first year that I can honestly say that she’s put in a full offseason toward practice and improving her game,” said Mostardi, who has joined Avon as an assistant coach this season. “She only played two to three times a week in the previous few years and didn’t work that hard in practice. This summer, she put the extra time in.
“She worked on her serves. She worked on her endurance with running. I’m anxious to see what all the extra work does for her this season, but I think that it will pay off.”
Maybe, dad said, Carmela took success for granted.
“She was more interested in getting good grades and playing for fun,” he said. “Now she’s more into the results and putting in the work that guarantees those results. I don’t want to sound cruel, but she just didn’t care before. Seeing all the notoriety she got as she began to win last season, she began to wonder how good she could be if she would actually try and play five days a week, and, thus far, it’s showed.”
Dad Mostardi has been more Coach Mostardi this season as Aston has been off dealing with a family emergency.
“I think it’s helping a lot,” Carmela said. “He’s getting us into shape and getting us ready for when Ms. Aston come back. It helps so much. He can yell at me but I don’t get frustrated. He does it because he cares, and he cares so much about us, it’s ridiculous.”
Mostardi said he’s using some of the drills he used during his 14 years at Avon Lake, such as simulating high-pressure situations and working on endurance with running drills.
“My dad hits with me for two hours after practice is over, and I play with my little brother,” Carmela said. “My mom (Laura) is my biggest supporter. She comes out to every match. In reality, my whole family has been a huge help to me. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”
She’s also seen big improvements in her game since she that first year of high school.
“My freshman year, I lost all of my challenge matches because I was so freaked out all the time,” she said. “I got over my anxiety and I depend on myself more. I’ve just grown as a player and matured.
“I don’t get as frustrated as would have before, and I keep a lot more balls in play. And, honestly, I try harder now.”
Carmela has been playing tennis for 11 years, and spent a lot of time hanging out at her dad’s Avon Lake practices, where he helped Christine and Nikki Chiricosta become two of the better tennis players in the state. In fact, the sisters won a state doubles championship together when Christine was a senior and Nikki was a freshman.
“Growing up and watching them helped me out a lot,” Carmela said. “Nikki still comes out and hits balls with us when she’s not at Bowling Green. The one thing you notice about Nikki is she never gets frustrated with herself, and she always plays the point out, no matter what the score is. Seeing that and her work ethic really made a difference to me.”
Looking to repeat as WSC champions, Avon beefed up its schedule. The Eagles even entered the State Coaches Cup Tournament, which showcases some of the top programs in the state, such as Westlake, Upper Arlington, Shaker Heights and Magnificat.
As a four-year senior, Carmela has embraced a role as team leader.
“We’re all about putting the team first, but sometimes I feel I like I need to step it up and keep everything in line for the girls,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the leadership challenge this season.”
She’s also been taking Taekwondo lessons for six years and is a second-degree black belt.
“It’s all about discipline and it helps me with my stamina and not giving up when I’m down,” she said. “My instructors have helped me out a lot of with that, especially the mental aspect of things. It’s definitely helped me with my tennis career.”
She put Taekwondo on the back burner in February to enter some USTA tournaments and throw her focus on tennis. She plans to take it up again once the tennis season is over, serving as a youth instructor and possibly entering some competitions.
“Hopefully, we get another WSC title and get the LCAAA team title, and maybe get an undefeated record,” she said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.