By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
Area tennis fans should have plenty to watch this spring.
The five area teams begin their seasons with the opening days of April, and it appears the competition will be high competitive.
Following a 6-9 campaign in 2012, the Hatchets have everybody back, and Washington coach Kevin Stallman hopes that experience will lend itself to success on the court. Washington will welcome back seniors Rachel Chattin, Brittany Pierson, juniors Audra Stallman, Chelsea Brown and Audrey Rogers back into the fold.
Stallman said the starting lineup has not been set yet, as the girls are participating in challenge matches in order to come out with a lineup with the best option for success.
"All of our girls are coming back so we have some experience," Kevin Stallman said. "We're hoping to really improve on last year¹s record, and just get better as tennis players." Stallman said as the Hatchets enter the season the most important aspect of their preparation for the team to be successful is being in the right mind set at all times.
"We need to keep our focus on getting better every day, and not getting down on ourselves," Stallman said. "We just need to keep improving as tennis players."
In his first season leading the Cardinals, Eric Wimmenauer is hoping to improve the fortunes of the Washington Catholic girls tennis program. The Cardinals welcome back some experienced players that will give the Cardinals a shot to be competitive for every match.
Senior Elizabth Brochin will lead the Cardinals in 2013, followed by juniors Claire Burch, Macy Kane, Rachel May and Megan LaGrange.
"I want us to be better than last year and show some improvement," Wimmenauer said. "We would like our one senior and four juniors to step up and help us earn a better record than last year." The Cardinals will face many challenges this season in a competitive area of girls tennis that doesn't appear to have a truly dominant team, but Wimmenauer points to an obstacle that plagues WC so often - size.
"It would definitely be our small number," Wimmenauer said. "We only have a total of nine girls this season, it's hard to practice with that small number. Every year we have small numbers, so that's always a factor."
The Vikings enjoyed great success in 2012, as they won 15 of their 19 matches for the season. 2013 will be a different story from Barr-Reeve with an exodus of experience at graduation. Barr-Reeve coach Mandy Hannah said her team will have three returning players slide into leading roles.
Hania Sisco and Destiny Kidwell will play No. 1 doubles, while Alison Hoover will play as the top singles player for the Vikings.
"We are young, we graduated three seniors last year," Hannah said. "I think we'll have a good season. I think we'll continue to improve throughout the season." Hannah said she hasn't set out any specific team and individual goals, she just wants to the team to improve and get stronger with each match. Through that experience, Hannah said Hani Sisco and Destiny Kidwell are two players to watch to see if they can continue the dominance they have showcased in doubles in the past.
"It will be interesting to see their transition from No. 2 to No. 1 doubles," Hannah said. "They have only lost three matches over the last two seasons at No. 2 doubles."
Rebuilding is never an easy proposition for any team, and that's exactly what Loogootee is facing in 2013. The Lions finished with a record of 10-9 in 2012, but lost six seniors to graduation and four others that contributed to last season's team.
With zero returning players, Loogootee coach Mike Tippery understands it will be tough sledding at the start for his young team.
"I think our expectations are to go out and compete," Tippery said. "We realize we may take some lumps, but were going to go out and compete and work hard and focus on the fundamentals. Not that we're throwing away the season, but we¹re get ready for the end of the season." Tippery, in his 15th season coaching the Lions has never faced a situation with amount of youth to start a season. The inconsistent cold weather hasn't helped Tippery's team try to get some cohesiveness on the court.
"Regardless of how many players we have we want to win the Loogootee Tennis Invitational on April 6," Tippery said. "Win conference and win the sectional. Those goals still remain and that¹s what we're shooting for." Tippery has plenty of question marks when it comes to the starting lineup, but he knows freshman Emily Bateman will be the one certainty in the lineup.
Tippery said she was impressive in junior high, and he is hopeful her talent can transfer to the varsity level.
"She's a player with a lot of experience and the No. 1 players on the junior high team," Tippery said. "Beyond that I really don't know what direction we will go with the lineup. I am pleased that we have six freshman and they're all working hard."
While Loogootee is starting its rebuilding effort, North Daviess is in year two of its rebuilding situation. The Cougars won zero matches in 2011, and they added four victories to that tally last season under coach Lucas Calhoun.
The Cougars have seven players that played some varsity last season. Taylor Jeffers (Jr), Alison Beasley (Jr), Madison Reed (Jr), Carri Jo Wilson (Sr) are the top returning players from last season. Calhoun said the Cougars caught a little bit of a break in the schedule during the first week.
North Daviess traditionally has had four matches the first week, but this year they only have matches with Loogootee and Wood Memorial, and then the Loogootee Invitational.
"Pretty similar to last season, we are just getting started as far as having a presence in the school," Calhoun said. "2002 was the last time we won sectional. I would be really excited if we finished .500 or better." Calhoun said that the biggest obstacle facing his young team this season is patience and trying to take it one match at a time in order to maximize the talent they have on the roster.
"The girls have seen that we went form zero wins to four wins, and they are working hard," Calhoun said. "Learn positions - I'm not one to set a lineup and leave it. It keeps them hungry, not so much if the girls are confused.
I'm not unwilling to change a doubles or singles lineup. Now were at a place where we can really mix and match."