ST. BERNARD – It won’t exactly be easy for Roger Bacon High School girls tennis coach Fred Widmeyer to watch his team this season. That’s because he’ll be watching three of his top seniors, who have been with Widmeyer for all four years, play their final season with the Spartans. It’s a bittersweet feeling.
“They’ve been with me for the last three years now,” Widmeyer said. “It will be kind of tough to watch them go through the season knowing they’re gonna be graduating. I’m excited to see how far they’ve come.”
Those three seniors are Katie Perry, Jamie Thompson and Alexus Briggs. They make up three of Widmeyer’s six returning starters from last season. Also returning as starters are junior Makayla Baptiste, sophomore Erin Backs and sophomore Courtney Dulaney. Widmeyer also said his team picked up two new players who will help out in senior Brittany Jerger and freshman Lydia Hootes.
The Spartans went 5-8 last season. Playing in the Greater Catholic League Coed affords them a gauntlet style schedule with Alter, Chaminade Julienne and Fenwick all perennial powers in not only the conference, but also the state.
“We’ve toned down the schedule, but we still have to play the league schedule, which is always tough,” said Widmeyer, who added it will be crucial his girls stay positive early in the season. “We’re gonna jump right into the big schools right away.”
Widmeyer has emphasized fundamentals, footwork and simple ground strokes, saying he wants his girls to focus not trying to do too much.
Roger Bacon opens the season against Alter on August 13.
McAuley High School won seven tennis matches last season, and the Mohawks have three starters back from that team, to go with the return of head coach Nikki Schmutte after a nearly six-year hiatus from coaching.
Seven wins are the most in a season for McAuley since 2009, according to the Girls Greater Catholic League.
Returning as starters for the Mohawks are senior Kaitlin Hempel, junior Maria Hemmelgarn and junior Mia Raleigh, who was honorable mention in the GGCL last season.
There’s a lot of competition to fill the other spots, but there’s also a lot of beginners on the roster this year.
“We have a lot of beginners, and we can’t wait to see how they break through,” said varsity assistant coach Merri Beth Hebeler. “We’re always looking for improvement.”
Northwest, under the direction of coach Lauri Beyer, returns four seniors to the program, three of which were starters last season.
The three starters are Maria Koehlke, Tara Eckstein and Kayla Prather. Maya Gulliford, the fourth senior, is playing her first season at the varsity level.
Last week, the Knights were just getting started because their home courts were being resurfaced. Meaning their lineup was still up in the air.
After the seniors, Northwest’s team is comprised of juniors and sophomores.
Beyer said the four seniors could see time at singles and doubles spots this season.
“The four seniors are a group of girls who are easy and fun to coach,” Beyer said. “They are the first group of girls that I have had the pleasure to coach for four years. They work hard and strive to improve.”
Colerain High School lost six key players to graduation last season, most notably Hayley Curtis and Jenna Miller who were honorable mention in the Greater Miami Conference. The only underclassmen on last year’s team, which went 6-10 overall and 2-7 in the GMC, were sophomore Libby Ott and junior Melinda Thomas.
Mount Healthy went 0–5 in the Southwest Ohio Conference and 0-6 overall last year. The Owls are coached by Kimberly Jones.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kaitlin Hempel, McAuley: The senior is a returning starter for the Mohawks.
Katie Perry, Roger Bacon: The senior is a four-year starter for Roger Bacon.
Jamie Thompson, Roger Bacon: The senior is a four-year starter for Roger Bacon.
Alexus Briggs, Roger Bacon: The senior is a four-year starter for Roger Bacon.
Mia Raleigh, McAuley: The junior was honorable mention in the GGCL last season.
Aug. 20: McAuley at Mercy
Sept. 24, 26: GMC tournament