The best is back for the Oshkosh West girls tennis team.
The Wildcats return both No. 1 singles player Liz Edsell and the top doubles team of Hannah Dexheimer and Bailey Sagen as they take aim on the 2013 season.
“We’re real excited,” West coach Debbie Heinen said earlier this week. “The No. 1 singles and doubles are back to anchor the team and we have a lot of experience coming back on varsity.
“We are looking forward to the season and hopefully it will go well.”
It should go well in the top flights where Edsell enters her fourth year on varsity and her second season as the No. 1 players for West. She finished 18-11, bowing out in the first-round of the state tournament.
Dexheimer and Sagen claimed the Fox Valley Association No. 1 doubles crown and picked up regional and sectional titles, en route to a sixth-place finish at the WIAA Division 1 Individual State Tournament
Heinen believes the duo — which lost only one match before the state tournament a year ago — could be even better this season.
“They had a phenomenal year last year,” Heinen said. “(This year) we just want to take it one match at a time and not get too ahead of ourselves and not put too much pressure on them, but obviously we’re hoping they can have a successful season.
Oshkosh West will be more than just the No. 1 flights, though.
Abbey Vadnais, who played at No. 2 and No. 3 singles last year, and Danielle Hawi, who was at No. 4 singles, each posted at least 17 wins last year, were first-team all-FVA honorees and advanced to sectionals.
Freshman Emily Edsel and Haley Asuma, who saw limited varsity action last year, are among those competing for the final singles spot.
In doubles, Katie Buege, half of the state-qualifying No. 2 doubles tandem, returns as does a trio of players who saw action at the No. 3 Flight in Alli Wolff, Erin Pyle and Asuma.
“What I focus on is taking it one meet at a time and our goal is continuously improve. We came into the season at this level, and just with every meet we want to gain experience and improve,” Heinen said. “If the girls do that, I think we will be playing where we want t dome sub-sectional and sectional time.”
The Wildcats aren’t the only team to return its No. 1 flights as the Spartans bring back the state qualifying tandem of Meg Hartzell and Alyssa Schafer in doubles as well as sectional qualifier Savannah Prehn in singles.
North head coach Paul VandenBoogaard believes the experience will help both flights.
“It’s always a positive to have people back who have experience playing in those positions before,” VandenBoogaard said. “They know what’s going on and what they are getting themselves into so it’s good to have them with that confidence.”
First-team all-FVA honoree Leslie Kutnink returns after playing at No. 4 singles last year, while Alyssa Hardel played at No. 2 singles and will also likely find a spot in the Spartans’ lineup.
VandenBoogaard also expected returning player Samantha Barker to fill one of the remaining doubles positions.
With a roster of 22 players and a talented group of returning players, first-year coach Becky Baird likely has her sights set pretty high for this season.
“The girls are really excited and we do have some strong returning varsity girls this year,” Baird said.
The top three singles players for the Tigers all qualified for sectionals last year in Annie Docter, Laura Lyke and Caroline Brumley, who will start out the year in the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 slots, respectively.
Freshman Rachel Peppler is the frontrunner to fill the No. 4 singles spot.
Ripon graduated five of its six doubles players from last year though — Jamie Gundlach is the only returning player — and will look to some new faces to fill that part of the lineup.
The Knights graduated state qualifier Lianna Hawi from last year’s squad but did have a quartet of underclassmen qualify for sectionals.
Jenna Janssen and Maddie McDonald were sectional qualifiers in singles last year, while the doubles team of Michelle McDonald and Angela Moore qualified as underclassmen last year.
No other information was available on the Knights.