SHARONVILLE – There aren’t too many sports where a freshman can come in and dominate right away. Tennis happens to be one of those sports, and last season Emily Thomas came right in and dominated for Princeton High School.
Now a sophomore, Thomas is preparing to follow up her inaugural season, one in which she went 25-3, was a Division I state singles qualifier and the Greater Miami Conference Player of the Year.
The Vikings have some talent outside Thomas, too. Princeton second-year coach Mike Thomas, Emily’s father, said he has three returning starters this season with senior Michaela Pettis and junior Donilia Powell joining Emily with experience at the varsity level.
A few newcomers — freshman Julia Kufeldt and sophomore Savannah Huber — will help give the Vikings some depth this year.
“We’ve got some good players. Michaela (Pettis) has been working really hard with me. So has Donilia (Powell) and some young kids coming up from middle school last year,” said Mike Thomas. “One through three singles are gonna be strong and I’m really happy about our first doubles team … I think we’re gonna be a team to beat this year.”
Greg Knickel is the new girls tennis coach at Wyoming High School as the Cowboys prepare for another Cincinnati Hills League run.
Knickel previously coached tennis at Lakota East.
Wyoming was 4-2 in the CHL a year ago, but just 5-15 overall. Ellen Boster made CHL second team in singles, while Annie Boster, Marika Shoger and Lindsey Sasson were honorable mention. The Bosters and Shoger will be juniors, with Sasson now a sophomore.
The Boster twins split time between second and third singles last season in addition to a few matches at first doubles. Other returning starters are seniors Rachel Carter, Marcella Domka and Kalyxa Roman.
“We have young talent,” Knickel said. “We have a number of freshmen girls who look like they will be challenging for varsity positions.”
Knickel’s Cowboys begin with Centerville Aug. 14, followed by Cincinnati Country Day Aug. 19. Their first league tilt is Aug. 20 against Madeira.
The Mount Notre Dame Cougars were 3-3 in the Girls Greater Catholic League in 2014 and 5-5 overall in 2014.
MND’s top returning player is Sabine Worthoff who made first team GGCL in singles. Grace Nunn was second team all-league. Both will be juniors.
The Cougars start off at Walnut Hills Aug. 12.
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy had several girls receive recognition on the all-city teams after the season including Emily Kabalin, Olivia Schwan and Abby Wissman (Div. II second team), and Rebecca Richart, Ella Hipsley and Mandy Shank (Div. II honorable mention).
The new season begins Aug. 13 at Walnut Hills. The Eagles are coached by Joe Freudenberg.
Ursuline Academy has built itself into one of the powerhouse Division I girls tennis programs in the area with at least 34 consecutive winning seasons to its name.
Other area coaches expect the Lions to be strong again this year.
“Sycamore, Mason, Ursuline and Lakota East will field strong teams again,” Turpin coach Gail Maundrell said.
The Lions have won the last two Girls Greater Catholic League titles and look to add a third this year. Helping UA do that will be senior Jenny Duma, junior Ellie Foster, sophomore Gabriella O’Connor and freshman Gracie Estes.
Duma is one of the program’s most proven winners. She has 75 career wins, good for fourth on the all-time list. Two more wins tie her for third and 30 more puts her in a tie for second.
Coach Joe Hartkemeyer believes O’Connor is a Division I prospect.
“We have a lot to learn as we are very young on experience playing at the Varsity A level, but this group is going to surprise some people,” he said. “I see this group of girls as a team that will have some learning experiences early, but will keep getting better, come together and be a force by season’s end.”
Players to watch
Ellen and Annie Boster, Wyoming. Both will be juniors. As sophomores, Ellen was second team CHL and Annie made honorable mention. They have played both singles and doubles.
Emily Thomas, Princeton. Thomas is preparing to follow up her inaugural season, one in which she went 25-3, was a Division I state singles qualifier and the Greater Miami Conference Player of the Year.
Sabine Worthoff, MND. Made GGCL first team as a sophomore for the Cougars.