In 42 previous seasons of Indiana high school girls tennis, there have been three constants: the programs at Carmel, North Central and Park Tudor, which have combined to win 25 of the state titles in those seasons.
This season shouldn’t be much different. All three of those teams are loaded with returnees from squads that qualified for the state meet. Carmel beat Park Tudor in the semifinals and then defeated North Central in the finals to win its second-straight state title.
Cathedral also looks loaded once again and has a talented freshman joining its roster, while Guerin Catholic looks to continue its development into a state power.
Five teams to watch
Carmel. Five starters are back for a squad that enters the season on a 37-match win streak. Gone is first-team all-state singles player Bailey Padgett, but her younger sister and fellow all-stater Lauryn returns after going 44-1 at No. 2 singles the past two seasons. No. 3 singles player Zoe Woods (23-0 last year) also is back, as is the state-champion doubles team of Molly Fletchall and Emma Love. “We have a lot of depth and experience this year, so I think we will definitely be in the hunt for a third title,” coach Mike Bostic said. “The girls program has never won three state titles in a row, and we all know how difficult that it to achieve.”
North Central. Six starters are back from a state runner-up team that went 0-3 against Carmel and 23-0 against the rest of its schedule. Top singles player Claire Reifeis is among the returnees, as is No. 2 singles player Caroline McAuley (23-5 in 2014). “(The) goal is to get better each match, with the possibility of winning the state championship,” coach Dan Brunette said. “Another year of maturity has helped (this) group tremendously.”
Cathedral. The Irish ended the 2014 regular season ranked fourth in the state before falling to North Central in the sectional final. Coach Mark Noe believes his team is a top-five squad, thanks to the return of five starters. One of those, Grace Koscielski, was a first-team all-state singles player. The Irish also have the services of Grace’s younger sister, Maeve. “Our goal is to improve throughout the season and prepare for a state run,” Noe said.
Park Tudor. Starters Brigitte Hodge, Abby Sogard, Noelle Enkema, Annie McCarter and Danielle Lebovits all return from a team that finished 14-5 — with all five of those losses coming to Carmel (twice), North Central (twice) and Cathedral. Hodge was 15-7 and a second-team all-state selection at No. 1 singles. “We are excited to see where the team can go this year,” coach Andrea Calvert-Sanders said. “They all are a great group of girls that have worked hard in the offseason.”
Guerin Catholic. The Golden Eagles ended the 2014 season ranked eighth in the state and were the only squad to take a point off Cathedral in the state tourney, falling 4-1 in the sectional final. Guerin did graduate an all-state doubles team, but three starters return: Reiley Harrington, Ashley Jonathan and Julia Broadbent. Harrington was a second-team all-state selection at singles, while Jonathan was honorable mention. “We will have a lot of open positions for girls to step up and fill this year,” coach Kevin Gill said. “I feel like we can maintain our position as a top-10 team and then go from there.”
Five individuals/doubles teams to watch:
Claire Reifeis, North Central. A junior, Reifeis has started at No. 1 singles for the Panthers since her freshman season. She was 27-2 last year while earning first-team all-state honors.
Maeve Koscielski, Cathedral. Noe said Koscielski will start the season at No. 1 singles for the Irish. The freshman is No. 1 in the USTA’s Midwest Section Central Indiana District 16-year-old rankings.
Jessica Lorenz, Fishers. Lorenz was a second-team all-state selection last year, finishing the season 21-4. “I consider Jessica to be one of the top players in the metro area,” Fishers coach Dave Heffern said.
Molly Fletchall/Emma Love, Carmel. After dropping the first set 6-1 in the doubles state championship match last year, the pair won 12 of the final 13 games to cap a 23-0 season and win the title.
Mackenzie Lord/Shivali Rao, Brebeuf Jesuit. Lord and Rao caught fire at the right time last season, winning seven postseason matches before falling in the state semifinals. “There is a high probability that they will play doubles again this season,” Braves coach Brent Claymon said. “The deep run that Shivali and Mackenzie made in the state tournament last year provided them extremely valuable experience. It is certainly our hope that another year of game development, mental toughness and experience will carry over for them.”