It was ladies first on Wednesday morning at Riverview High School as senior tennis players Danielle Truitt and Nicole Pivonka formally committed to playing at Emory University and Drexel University, respectively.
Truitt, a four-year starter who has helped Riverview to four district championships and three region championships, choose the NCAA Division III powerhouse located in Atlanta over a pair of Massachusetts-based schools in Bentley University and Amherst College. In addition to claiming four consecutive national championships from 2003-06, Emory is the reigning national runner-up and the top-ranked Division III team in the country.
“When I went to Emory (on an official visit), it felt like home and everything was perfect for me,” Truitt said. “It has really good academics and athletics to make me the most well-rounded person I can be. I would still be playing a lot of tennis, but I would also have my social and academic aspects as well.”
Pivonka recently returned to tennis after a pair of knee surgeries kept her off the court for four years. The once-promising national and international junior player, who served as the captain of Riverview’s golf team during her hiatus from tennis, was considering the University of Florida and not playing tennis before she sent a video to the Drexel coaching staff.
“I’ve played tennis my whole life, but I was injured,” Pivonka said after signing her national letter of intent. “It’s great to be back to playing for the high school team again. (Drexel) is (NCAA) Division I tennis. I sent the coaches my video. They were all extremely interested, so they offered me a scholarship with an academic scholarship. I went up north, met the team in Philly and fell in love with the campus.”
Riverview will play for its fourth consecutive region championship in girls tennis on Thursday afternoon against visiting Manatee.
Joining Truitt and Pivonka at the press conference were fellow tennis player Kyle Hoffman and baseball player Chad Sobotka. Hoffman signed a national letter of intent with Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., and Sobotka, a 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher, inked a pact with the University of South Carolina Upstate, which is located in Spartanburg, S.C.
Hoffman, who has not lost a regular-season match since his sophomore season, also considered playing tennis at North Carolina-Charlotte and Xavier University in Cincinnati. The four-year varsity starter first drew the attention of first-year Georgia Southern head coach Nick Zieziula when the latter was serving as an assistant coach at the University of Central Florida.
Zieziula is expecting Hoffman to compete for playing time as a freshman. Hoffman’s goal is to play “No. 2 or No. 3 singles” for the Eagles by the end of the 2012 campaign.
Sobotka has literally grown into his role as the Rams’ ace this season. As a 6-foot reliever last season, Sobotka was limited in his role as a reliever.
He has pitched two complete games and started seven games for Riverview this spring. A current four-game winning streak has brought his record on the season to 4-2.
“Over the summer, I worked hard,” Sobotka said. “We had five seniors graduate as starter pitchers. That’s when I became a starting pitcher. (Former Riverview head coach) Jim Zerilla helped me with my curveball a lot. When (current Riverview assistant and former Cardinal Mooney head coach) Greg Mulhollen came in, he helped with my velocity and showed me how to use my legs better. Over the past year and a half, I have become a pitcher instead of a thrower.”
South Carolina Upstate, which is currently making the transition to the NCAA Division I level and the Atlantic Sun Conference, beat out Mount Olive College in North Carolina and Daytona Beach’s Embry-Riddle for Sobotka’s services.