Storied Career: North’s Wilson earns third Girls Tennis Player of the Year honor

By the time Columbus North senior Ashlie Wilson finished her high school career earlier this month, she already had established herself among the top players to ever come through the program.

Wilson has already received many awards this past season including All-State First Team Singles and All-District 8 Singles.

It should come as little surprise that Wilson has been named The Republic Girls Tennis Player of the Year for the third time in four years. Her sophomore season of tennis was canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since tennis is mostly an individual sport, one of the biggest lessons Wilson had to adjust to was the team aspect of high school tennis, which meant watching her teammates finish out their respective matches and encouraging and cheering for them.

“Tennis is a very individual sport outside of high school,” Wilson said. “When I was younger, I always traveled on my own and played matches on my own. Learning how to be a team player and be part of a team, that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned playing high school.”

Wilson arguably will go down as one of the top players to ever play tennis at North, along with former state singles champion Caroline Hedrick. Wilson is one of three freshman, along with Hedrick and Aubrey Smith, to begin at No. 1 singles.

“It is an acknowledgement to be 1 singles all four years. As a freshman, she came in with a lot of potential,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “She wasn’t a surprise. She was working out on the court a lot. She’s gotten bigger, she’s gotten stronger, she’s gotten quicker, faster in what she’s doing. Growth-wise, she’s really grown into her body and position that helped her with her game. She’s got that mentality of being the No. 1 player on top of the team and knowing she competes against the best players as well. I’m very proud of her for what she’s done.”

This season, Wilson went 21-3 at No. 1 singles and in her career, finished 63-10.

Although her team didn’t advance to the state quarterfinals this year, Wilson advanced in the state singles tournament as an individual. She made it to the semifinal round and lost to eventual state champion Ellie Myers of Evansville Memorial in three sets. It was the farthest a Bull Dog had advanced in the state tournament since Hedrick in 2009.

“You don’t think about it four years ago, but looking to this year, I’m very proud of what she’s done for her and her effort and how she has matured and developed to be that athlete and to be the best player you can,” Hammel said. “The time and effort she puts in on and off the court, she’s been a very exciting player, and I hope she does well.”

Wilson isn’t completely done with tennis. Next year, she’ll be taking her talents to Purdue to play on the Boilermaker women’s team. She said she’s made a couple trips a week to Purdue to hit the ball around with one of the players on the team.

“I am very excited,” Wilson said. “I’ve been going up there some, so I’ve been getting a feel for it. I’m just excited to take everything with me and everything I’ve learned here and to move on to another level and take that with me.”

Before she heads to Purdue, Wilson will take part in a couple of big tournaments. The first will take place this weekend, when she competes in an Indiana Tennis Association sanctioned tournament that will feature collegiate players. The second is in Charlestown, South Carolina, for the clay court nationals in July. She is going to compete in the doubles tournament with her sister Kathryn and then compete in the singles competition.

The other tournament is a world tennis team event. Wilson is a part of the team that includes her sister Kathryn and Carmel’s Hallie Reeves on the girls side and Carmel’s Jack Jentz, Eli Mercer and West Lafayette’s Aidan William for the boys. They’ll travel to Orlando and compete in USTA national camp from July 19-21. Jentz was on the state doubles championships team last year, and William won the state singles championship last year.

Ashlie Wilson was one of the team captains and leaders of the North team this year. She organized of a lot of team activities and hopes her impression and mark that she made for the program can help her younger teammates down the road.

“One of the things this year that was big for me was trying to get all the girls to do things together and to have a good team chemistry. I pushed for everyone to do things outside of tennis,” Wilson said. “I think hopefully with my teammates, they’ve seen how hard work can be an asset in the end and how it hopefully motivates them to play more tournaments and practice more over the offseason and to work really hard in practice.”

Even though Wilson came up a bit short of her dream of becoming a state champion, she’s humble for all the relationships, team bonding and other accomplishment she’s had with the Bull Dogs.

“With this season, it was a little hard because I didn’t exactly get to where I wanted to be with the team and individually,” Wilson said, “but I think that the relationships I’ve built and the things I’ve learned over the years, I’ve accomplished all of that I’ve ever wanted to.”

The Republic All-Area Girls Tennis team:

Ashlie Wilson, Columbus North: The senior went 21-3 at No. 1 singles and advanced to the state singles semifinals.

Kathryn Wilson, Columbus North: The sophomore went 22-0 at No. 2 singles and 1-1 at No. 1 singles.

Aya Saad, Columbus North: The freshman went 19-3 at No. 3 singles and 1-1 at No. 2 singles.

Tiffany Fu, Columbus North: The senior went 13-8 at No. 1 doubles.

Leah George, Columbus North: The senior went 13-8 at No. 1 doubles and 2-0 at No. 2 doubles.

Sydney Cooper, Columbus North: The senior went 16-4 at No. 2 doubles and 1-0 at No. 1 doubles.

Annabelle Sun, Columbus North: The freshman went 17-3 at No. 2 doubles and 1-2 at No. 1 doubles.

Reagan Brown, Jennings County: The senior went 18-6 at No. 1 singles.

Tatum Brown, Jennings County: The sophomore went 19-4 at No. 2 singles.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Mary Rygiel, Anna Stogsdill, Katie Tipton. Columbus East: Katie Hong. Columbus North: Siri Poludasu. Edinburgh: Bethany Burton. Hauser: Charlie Clark, Gabby Johns, Bella Kilps. Jennings County: Maria Alberti, Lucy Brown. Trinity Lutheran: Sarah Lemming.