On the mend

For the second year in a row, a top girls tennis player in Columbus will miss the start of the high school season with an injury.

Last year, Columbus East’s No. 1 singles player, Megan Galle, was out the first half of the season with a broken finger. Now, Columbus North’s No. 1 singles player, Aubrey Smith, is set to miss at least the first week of the season with an ankle injury.

Smith, The Republic Girls Tennis Player of the Year last season, rolled her right ankle while doing a power clean in weight training class just prior to spring break. The injury originally was diagnosed as a hairline fracture, but when she returned to the doctor on Monday, it was treated as a sprain.

“I’ve never sprained my ankle before, so when I first did it, it hurt really bad,” Smith said. “I could see it was starting to swell, so I kind of got a little nervous. Then, I could just tell it wasn’t right. I think I was more upset about tennis than my ankle.”

When the injury was first diagnosed as a hairline fracture, doctors said she would be out a maximum of six weeks. But after Monday’s visit, she will return to the doctor in three weeks for a checkup.

That date would be April 11, the day the Bull Dogs are scheduled to visit East.

“(The doctor) said I should be fine jogging, but he doesn’t know about cutting and stuff yet because that will put more pressure on it,” Smith said. “I’m trying to help out as much as I can, but I’m very disappointed. Luckily, I did it before the season, so I should be good in a few weeks, hopefully. I’m definitely glad it’s not my senior year.”

Smith, who also plays golf and helped North to a top-five state finish in the fall, went 19-8 last tennis season, earning All-District honors and leading North to Conference Indiana and sectional championships. This year, she is hoping to lead the Bull Dogs to at least a regional title and qualify for state as an individual if the team doesn’t make it.

North opens the season April 5 at Center Grove.

In Smith’s absence, senior Paige Littrell likely will begin the season in the No. 1 singles spot. Littrell actually played No. 1 singles the first three matches of last season before Smith moved up.

“Anytime a team loses that caliber of player, you’re going to have to make adjustments,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “It might help a couple other people step up. I feel like we’re going to have a team that’s going to be very competitive statewide this year, but it’s not going to happen with (Smith) sitting on the sidelines. We have to get her healthy and get her back out there.”

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Coming April 5

Girls tennis previews for all area high schools, including Columbus North, Columbus East, Hauser, Jennings County, Brown County and Edinburgh.

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Name: Aubrey Smith

School: Columbus North

Year: Junior

Sports: Tennis, golf

Last year’s tennis record: 19-8 (3-0 at No. 2 singles, 16-8 at No. 1 singles)