The hope for any high school athlete is to get progressively better each year.

Columbus North girls tennis player Aubrey Smith did exactly that. She played No. 1 singles all four years for the Bull Dogs, and finished with a better record each season.

“I think this was probably my best year,” said Smith, The Republic Girls Tennis Player of the Year for the third consecutive time. “I didn’t really lose to anybody that I shouldn’t have. No. 1 singles is definitely a tough spot, but I think I handled it pretty well and got better as my years went on.”

Smith went x-x at No. 1 singles as a freshman. She then went 3-0 at No. 2 singles and 16-8 at No. 1 singles as a sophomore.

Slowed by an ankle injury at the beginning of her junior year, Smith went 1-0 at No. 3 singles, 3-1 at No. 2 singles and 13-6 at No. 1 singles. She played exclusively at No. 1 singles this season and went 19-5.

“You look to try to progress year after year,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “Those first couple of years can always be a little tough, getting beat up by some older players. She’s had to deal with injuries and allergies, but this year, for the most part, she was actually injury free and didn’t have the allergy problems.”

This season, Smith led North to its second consecutive regional championship. Last year, she led the Bull Dogs to a semistate crown and a berth in the state tournament.

North’s run came to an end this year when it fell 3-2 to eventual state runner-up Providence in the Jasper Semistate.

“We (played) the best team at semistate, so that was kind of bad for us, but I think we did pretty well this year,” Smith said. “We battled through all our matches.”

Smith was hoping that if the Bull Dogs couldn’t get to state as a team, that she could make it as an individual. Those dreams also came up one match short when she fell to Providence’s Halli Trinkle in that semistate match.

Three of Smith’s five losses, including the one to Trinkle, came against first-team All-State players. Smith made the second team.

“She was wanting to try to get to the state tournament, and unfortunately, she ran into a very good player from Providence,” Hammel said. “But she had no bad losses this year and had some good wins not only for herself but for the team. She’s really developed.”

Smith was the third sibling in her family to play No. 1 singles for Hammel at North. Older brother Austin and older sister Allie both played for the Bull Dogs.

Usually, when Austin and Allie were playing, Aubrey was there to watch.

“She was a pleasure,” Hammel said. “That whole family, all the years I’ve had those kids, I’ve known her since she was just a little one running around on the courts with all the other kids. She was something that was special to have on the team, not only as a player, but also as a captain and a role model for everybody else.”

Both of her older siblings played college tennis — Austin at Ball State, and Allie at University of Indianapolis. Aubrey is headed to Bellarmine.

Like UIndy, Bellarmine plays in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

“My sister played in that conference, so I know most of the teams in there,” Smith said. “(Bellarmine has) a really good team, and I just have to keep working over the summer. I feel like in college, you’re going to get pushed harder than you ever have, so I think that I’m going to be definitely pushed to my full potential.”

At a glance

The Republic All-Area Girls Tennis team:

Aubrey Smith, Columbus North: The senior went 19-5 at No. 1 singles and was named second-team All-State.

Madelyn Sanders, Columbus North: The junior went 19-5 at No. 2 singles and was named honorable mention All-State.

Yijiang Zhao, Columbus North: The junior went 1-0 at No. 2 singles and 22-2 at No. 3 singles and was named honorable mention All-State.

Shweta Srinivasan, Columbus North: The sophomore went 9-15 at No. 1 doubles and was named honroable mention All-State.

Servane Cloteaux, Columbus North: The sophomore went 6-9 at No. 1 doubles and 4-1 at No. 2 doubles and was named honorable mention All-State.

Megna Chari, Columbus East: The sophomore went 16-3 at No. 1 singles and was named honroable mention All-State.

Kendall Gerken, Columbus East: The senior went 13-6 at No. 1 doubles and was named honorable mention All-State.

Kathryn Hodzen, Columbus East: The freshman went 15-2 at No. 1 doubles and was named honorable mention All-State.

Adycin Rager, Columbus East: The senior went 16-3 at No. 2 singles.

Hallee Miller, Brown County: The junior went 5-10 at No. 1 singles, 1-0 at No. 2 singles and 1-0 at No. 1 doubles.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Jacey Ferguson, Vanessa Hoskins, Elisabeth Huls. Columbus East: Alaysha Pollert. Columbus North: Ali Bergman, Eva Chevalier. Edinburgh: Allie Schooler. Hauser: Annie Ashbrook, Alana Owen, Sarah Tedder. Jennings County: Ellie Hearne, Maddy Hill, Avis McGovern. Trinity Lutheran: Abby Schult.

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