Columbus North made it all the way to the girls tennis state quarterfinals last season, and if the Bull Dogs are going to do it again, it likely will be on the strength of their singles play.

“I think we could be a pretty good team this year,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “I have three really strong singles players, and if I keep them in singles, we’ll put a lot of emphasis on winning matches with those three spots. A team that’s going to beat us is going to have some good singles players, as well.”

Senior Aubrey Smith returns for her fourth year at No. 1 singles. Smith overcame an ankle injury at the beginning of last season to earn her second consecutive The Republic Girls Tennis Player of the Year honor.

Juniors Madelyn Sanders and Yijaing Zhao are battling for the No. 2 and No. 3 singles spots. Sanders played No. 3 singles last year, while Zhao was at No. 2 doubles.

“Aubrey is playing well,” Hammel said. “Madelyn is a fighter. She pulled through some big matches last year. Yijaing has really improved. She’s put some time in this winter, and she’s hitting a really good ball. I think we’re strong in those three spots, and we’ll see how strong we can get in the doubles.”

Sophomore Shweta Srinivisan, who played No. 2 doubles with Zhao, will be at one of the doubles spots, along with junior Ellen Carson and freshman Eva Chevalier. Battling for the fourth doubles position are sophomores Jenna Jarnigin and Servane Cloteaux, freshman Ali Bergman and junior Elizabeth McAvoy.

The Bull Dogs went 19-7 last season. With 29 players out for this year’s team, Hammel has his biggest girls squad ever.

Columbus East

With the entire lineup back from a 10-8 team and the addition of a couple talented freshmen, the Olympians hope to unseat North as sectional champs.

“A lot of it is going to come down to matchups and making sure that we’re in the right mindset going into the end of the season,” East coach Matt Malinsky said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a job making sure that we’re peaking at the right time, but i think we have as good a shot as ever.”

One of the reasons for optimism has been the play of senior Adycin Rager. Rager, who played No. 2 singles last season, has beaten last year’s No. 1 singles player, sophomore Megna Chari, in challenge matches.

Senior Alaysha Pollert returns at No. 3 singles. Senior Kendall Gerken and junior Esta Morrison played No. 1 doubles, and Gerkin and freshman Kathryn Hodson will start this season at that spot.

Senior Carolyn Travis and junior Maddy Rhodes played No. 2 doubles last year. They are battling with Morrison and freshman Emie Kiser for those spots.

“Probably half the team was coming in for tennis during the offseason, so that was nice to see,” Malinsky said. “Adycin Rager is one of the ones in particular who has made tons of improvement since last season, and we have a couple of freshmen who I’ve known for quite awhile who have been out at Tipton (Lakes Athletic Club).”

Hauser

The Jets have their sights on a Mid-Hoosier Conference title with six varsity players returning.

Junior Alana Owen will move up from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles. Sophomore Catherine Bruer will step in at No. 2 singles, and junior Madie Sherman returns at No. 3 singles.

Both doubles teams are back. Senior Annie Ashbrook and junior Sarah Tedder are at No. 1 doubles, and senior Natalie Taylor and junior Tannyr Davis return at No. 2 doubles.

“Their athleticism will help give our team some depth,” Hauser coach Molly Crabtree said. “(Our goal) for the 2017 tennis season is to work hard and compete for a top spot in our conference. Our team is very determined and motivated to have a successful season.

Jennings County

The Panthers return only three varsity players from a 4-16 team, but coach Deron Brown thinks they’ll be improved.

Senior Avis McGovern is back at No. 1 singles, and junior Rebecca Driver returns at No. 2 singles. Sophomore Hailey Brown will step in at No. 3 singles.

Junior Maddy Hill moves from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 doubles, and likely will be joined by freshman Ellie Hearne. Sophomores Callie Wilder and Abigail DeCamp will play No. 2 doubles.

“I think we’ll be a little more competitive than we were last year,” Deron Brown said. “I’m cautiously optimistic. Even though we lost four girls, I think all five points will be stronger this year.”

Brown County

Brown County coach Thom Miller thinks he might have his best team in a few years, with five regulars returning from an 8-8 team and the addition of two key newcomers.

Junior Hallee Miller and senior Elisabeth Huls played No. 1 and No. 2 singles last season, but they are battling for the No. 1 spot with senior Vanessa Hoskins. Hoskins moved back to Brown County after playing No. 1 singles at Edinburgh the past two years.

Senior Sarah Barrick and junior Jacey Ferguson played No. 1 doubles, and sophomore Baelyn Koester played No. 2 doubles last season. Maria Villalon, an exchange student from Spain, also is battling for a doubles position, along with junior Leah Tucker and senior Haylee deWeerdt.

“I have some ideas of what I think will work, but I think it’s going to look different than last year,” Thom Miller said. “Our doubles will be greatly improved. We have more depth. This will be the most competitive team we’ve had in the past several years.”

Edinburgh

Despite returning only three varsity regulars, the Lancers will look for their third consecutive winning season.

Senior Allie Schooler will move from No. 3 singles to No. 1 singles. Senior Hannah Gosmann and Sydney Schlotter move from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 doubles

Senior Molly Bowker, who played a little varsity as a sophomore before taking last year off, and senior Heather Jones will play No. 2 and 3 singles. Junior Paige Johnson and four freshmen are battling for the No. 2 doubles spots.

“It will be a building year, but we’ll definitely be competitive,” Edinburgh coach Rachel O’Brien said.

Trinity Lutheran

Sherry Schult joins Mark Voss as a co-coach this year, and they’ll try to help the Cougars improve on a 3-13 season.

Junior Courtney Barker will jump from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles. Sophomore Abby Schult moves from No. 3 singles to No. 2 singles.

Senior Leah Stuckwisch, juniors Lauren Voss and Macey Prewitt, sophomores Lauren Fleetwood and Sidney Hoene and freshman Cassidy Burnside are battling for the four doubles spots. One of two who doesn’t play doubles will play No. 3 singles.

“We’re looking to do a little bit better than we did last year,” Mark Voss said. “We’re pretty strong across the board, 1 through 7 or 8. From 3 down, they’re pretty much interchangeable pieces.”

If you go

The 2017 girls tennis schedules for Bartholomew County schools:

Columbus East

Tuesday;Edinburgh;5 p.m.

Wednesday;Bloomington North;6 p.m.

Friday;Brown County;4:30 p.m.

April 10;at Columbus North;4:30 p.m.

April 11;at Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.

April 13;Seymour;4:45 p.m.

April 15;at Brownsburg Invitational;10 a.m.

April 17;at Greensburg;5 p.m.

April 18;Whiteland;5 p.m.

April 20;Madison;5 p.m.

April 22;at Plainfield;10 a.m.

April 24;Jennings County;5 p.m.

April 27;at Greenwood;5 p.m.

May 1;Bedford North Lawrence;5 p.m.

May 3;East Central;5 p.m.

May 4;at Batesville;5:15 p.m.

May 8;Floyd Central in HHC tourney;5:30 p.m.

May 10;HHC tourney;5:30 p.m.

May 12;HHC tourney;5:30 p.m.

Columbus North

Tuesday;Center Grove;5 p.m.

Thursday;at Seymour;5 p.m.

Saturday;at Floyd Central Invitational;10 a.m.

April 10;Columbus East;4:30 p.m.

April 13;at Perry Meridian;6 p.m.

April 14;at Jeffersonville Tournament;7 p.m.

April 15;at Jeffersonville Tournament;9 a.m.

April 17;at Bloomington North;6 p.m.

April 19;at North Central;5:30 p.m.

April 20;Southport;5:30 p.m.

April 26;Greensburg;5 p.m.

April 27;Franklin Central;6 p.m.

May 2;at Bloomington South;6 p.m.

May 6;Conference Indiana at Franklin Central;10 a.m.

May 8;at Lawrence Central;5:30 p.m.

May 9;at Carmel;5:30 p.m.

May 11;Greenwood;5 p.m.

May 15;Terre Haute South at Bloomington North;6 p.m.

Hauser

Tuesday;Jennings County;5 p.m.

Thursday;at Knightstown;5 p.m.

Saturday;at Brown County Invitational;9 a.m.

April 13;at Edinburgh;4:30 p.m.

April 17;Morristown;4:30 p.m.

April 20;at Waldron;4:30 p.m.

April 26;at Trinity Lutheran;5:30 p.m.

April 28;Eastern Hancock;5:30 p.m.

May 1;Indianapolis Lutheran;4:30 p.m.

May 3;at Indian Creek;4:30 p.m.

May 9;Indian Creek;4:30 p.m.

May 11;Southwestern (Shelby);4:30 p.m.

May 13;MHC tourney;9 a.m.

May 16;Triton Central;4:30 p.m.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.