Local girls’ tennis teams are itching to get their season underway after a long winter kept most early spring practices indoors.
Lakeview has a stable of talent returning to the squad and is once again the team to beat in the city as the Spartans will try to win their ninth consecutive All-City Tournament title.
Last year the Spartans shared a Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference league championship with Gull Lake and qualified for the State Finals, where they finished in eighth place in Division 2.
Harper Creek will also look to make waves in the SMAC as the Beavers return most of their top players from the 2013 season. Last year Harper Creek was the only other city team to qualify for the State Tournament and it finished in 15th place in Division 3.
St. Philip is coming off a successful 6-1 campaign in 2013 and will look to keep the ball bouncing under first-year head coach Craig Dolbee.
Pennfield will try to stay in the top half of the Kalamazoo Valley Association, while Battle Creek Central continues to make improvements with third-year head coach Blair Treadwell.
Gull Lake is hoping to get back to the top of the SMAC, but will need to replace its star No. 1 singles player, Sara Remynse. Remynse, who finished second in the Division 2 state finals last year, is currently playing on scholarship at the University of Michigan.
Other area schools to watch include: Bronson, which has added a foreign-exchange student and three athletes from other sports to help the team; Marshall, which finished last year with an 11-5-1 record; and Galesburg-Augusta who returns 10 of its top 12 players.
Here’s a closer look at the 2014 area girls’ tennis teams:
Battle Creek Central
Coach: Blair Treadwell (third season)
Last year: 15th in SMAC
Top returners: Madi Stagner, Sr.; Vicky Enriquez, Sr.; Sam Prescott, Sr.; Morgan Burns, Jr.; Kavonna Smith, Jr.; Celia Compton Jr.
Season outlook: “I am extremely excited for the 2014 tennis season,” Treadwell said. “This year I have four new varsity members: Olivia Davis, Anisha Booker, Monica Par and Omolara Salimon. We are continuing to build our program in numbers and ability. Our hard work during the past couple of seasons will shine through this year.”
Coach: Brian Herr (second season)
Last year: 5-3-4
Top returners: Kendall Latshaw, Nicole Gilbert, Karlee Hancock, Page Brady, McKenzie Crumpton, Maeve Hammon, Bela Ballez, Courtney Gilmore, Keely Cruz, Emma Moore, Kirsten Murphy
Season outlook: “With so many returning players, we hope to have a strong season,” Herr said. “We opened with an indoor tournament against Paw Paw, Constantine and Berrien Springs on March 29 and won the tournament winning first place in six flights and second place in two flights. We hope that sets the tone for the rest of the season. Joining the team this year at No. 4 singles is Renae Malone.”
Coach: Mike McGinnis (27th season)
Last year: 7-2-2, (7-1-1 SMAC East), 8th place finish at Division 2 State Finals
Top returners: Maddy Drikakis, Sr.; Rachael Hager, Sr.; Alisha Horan, Sr.; Ami Kato, Sr.; Maddie Schimpf, Sr.; Kathleen Wendt, Sr.; Julia Ryan, Jr.; Anne Sangliana, Jr.; Ellie Denison, So.
Season outlook: “Like most every other girls’ tennis program we are struggling to get outside playing time to establish a starting line-up for the season,” McGinnis said. “But when the weather straightens out we are looking to contend to win the All-City, conference and regional tournaments this spring.”
Coach: Nicole Losey (first season)
Last year: 5-4-1 (4-3 KVA)
Top returners: Lauren Butters, Sr.; Sam Penland, Jr.; Allison Stark, Sr.; Katie Perry, Sr.; Ally Schwarz, So.; Bri Everline, Sr.; Crystal Smith, Sr.; Bri Gilliard, Sr.
Season outlook: “This year the girls have shown their willingness and dedication to work hard on and off the courts,” Losey said. “They have also shown a lot patience and endurance as we have had most of our practices indoors so far. We are looking forward to a great season. I am looking forward to having a great year with this group of girls as it is the last year for some of them.”
Coach: Craig Dolbee (first season)
Last year’s record: 6-1
Top returners: Abri Burrill, Sr.; Evanna Liewald, Sr.; Annie Newton, Jr.; Haley Swagler, Jr.
Season outlook: “The 2014 season will be a rebuilding year after losing seven players to graduation,” said Dolbee. “It was great to have 11 players still come out this year. We have a great group of girls, and our focus is continuing to grow as a team and to improve each day. Some of our notable newcomers are Morgan Luoma, McKenna Haley and Meagan Casterline.”
Coach: Ron La Belle (second season)
Last year: 2-7
Top returners: Ashley Laukhuf, Brandy Bennett, Sara Deboard, Katie de Araujo, Courtney Souva, Makayla Sikorski, Breanna Baker, Sadie Smith and Amanda Haviland
Season Outlook: “We’ve added a German exchange student, Elisibeth Borderl, and three seniors from other sports: Mikayla Johnson, Mattie Noble and Brelyn Hoard, who will make a real contributions to the team,” said La Belle. “Bronson will be a much-improved team top to bottom with no real stars, just very consistent in singles and doubles. We’re hoping to make a little noise in the conference and regionals… .”
Coach: Ron Ford (third season)
Last year: N/A
Top returners: Madison Zinn, sr.; Emma Dwyer, jr.; Karrisa Harrell, jr.; Sadie Youse, so.; Fawn Andrews, sr.
Season outlook: “I don’t think we’re at the top in the SMAC (East), but I don’t think we’ll be at the bottom… This year we’ll have our hands full with the conference. I think we’ll fit in really well in the Interstate Eight with schools of our caliber in almost all sports… One singles in Madison Zinn, we’re definitely looking to her. This is her fourth varsity season. Emma Grife is an up-and-comer for sure, as a freshman at No. 2 singles. She’s definitely the future for us.”
Coach: Paul Ferguson (second season)
Last year: 2-7-1 (6th in KVA)
Top returners: Emily Hickman, Sr., Megan Beaver, Jr.; Brianna Buller, Sr.; Allison Thomas, Sr.; Emily Midgett, Jr., Roshanna Deihlman, Sr.; Paige Little, Jr.; Taylor Verberg, So.; Taylor Hopkins, Jr.; Maggie Jefferson, So.
Season outlook: “We are returning 10 of 12 starters from the 2013 season and are expecting a major improvement from our sixth-place KVA finish,” Ferguson said. “We are trying to replace our No 1. singles player from the past two seasons and have four players who are competing for that spot. The Galesburg-Augusta Rams program continues to build and grow, thanks to the middle school program, and have plenty of options to choose players from as the roster is adding depth and talent. The biggest addition is sophomore Emily Sierengowski, who will be jumping into the No. 1 doubles flight after being unable to participate in 2013 due to an injury. With the returning experience and added depth, we are aiming for a top three overall finish in the KVA and are aiming for at least 10 points at regionals.”
Coach: Roger Cornelius (39th season)
Last year: 8-0-1, tied with Lakeview for conference championship
Top returners: Lily Fell, So.; Rachel Chang, Sr.; Susie Crum, Sr.; Claire Freeland, Sr.; Maddie Riegle, Sr.; Sarah Daniels, Sr.; Jillian Riegle, So.; Felicia Diaz, Sr.
Season outlook: “We hope to finish near the top in our division, but Lakeview is clearly the team to beat,” Cornelius said. “We would love to somehow come up with 18 points in the regional so that we also could go on to the State Finals.”
Coach: Kevin Brownell (seventh season)
Last year: 11-5-1
Top returners: Chandler Veich, Sr.; Olivia Olmstead, Sr.; Mary Townsend, Sr.; Jamie DiMoff, Jr.; Brooklyn Tobias, Jr.; Grace Corcoran, So.
Season outlook: “I’m very excited about this year,” Brownell said. “We will have a lot of new faces as we return only six players from last year’s varsity team. The girls have had an excellent attitude, even with the less-than-ideal conditions for early-season practices. We are all looking forward to nicer weather and quality time on the courts.”