As the season winds to a close, the Chillicothe girls tennis team can check off its first two of three preseason goals in its first season in the South Central Ohio League.
First was finishing the season with a winning record. At 13-5 with two matches remaining, it can cross that off the list.
Second was continuing to win the conference, regardless if it was their first year in the SCOL. At 9-0 with one league match remaining, the Cavaliers already have clinched the SCOL title.
Now, the Cavaliers can start preparing for their third goal: having success in the sectional tournament
Chillicothe coach Janet Disbennett’s biggest goal is having her full varsity team together for the tournament. She saw four of her seven starters graduate from 2012. Only Taylor Sprouse — a freshman at the time — qualified for district. The only chance the Cavs have of being more successful this year is by having a full varsity team.
“Out of the 18 matches (this season), I’ve only had three matches where I’ve had my whole varsity team playing,” Disbennett said. “I’ve had one player who was a transfer student sit out half the season and one of my seniors (Ellen Schmidt) now has a concussion. We’re hoping she’s able to be back next week to compete in sectionals.”
Because of injuries, sickness and sometimes class schedules, Disbennett has had to change her lineups multiple times. But Sprouse has been the cornerstone.
“(Sprouse) has won all (her) matches except for a three-set match she should have won,” Disbennett said. “She’s only a sophomore and she’s played a lot of tennis before high school. Last year, she had a great season and won one of the sectionals as a singles (player). This year, she got seeded fourth. The girl who got seeded first is one of the top girls in the nation. I was hoping (Sprouse) would get second or third, but you just have to go out and play and try to pull an upset. Anything can happen. It just depends who plays well on that day.”
Disbennett said although she might not have as strong a team as she had in 2012, she still is hoping some of her doubles teams might win some matches and qualify for the district. A Chillicothe doubles team qualifying for district greatly increases if Schmidt is able to recover from her concussion and rejoin her teammates.
Schmidt and Stacey Lapurga are the only two seniors for the Cavs this season, but Schmidt is the only one who has played varsity all four years.
Disbennett is excited to see what the team can do in the postseason.
“The girls have worked really hard and we’ve had a lot of adversity with illnesses and injuries,” Disbennett said. “They’ve adapted well to where I’ve put them in the lineup and did the best they can. I’m proud of how we fight and how we try to play when it’s dark. Tonight was our last home match for our seniors. We’ve had a good season.”
Chillicothe finishes the regular season with a make-up match at Clinton-Massie on Tuesday before next Thursday’s first day of sectionals in Columbus.