Although Avon is the defending sectional champion, each of the county girls’ tennis teams return significant talent and could be players to unseat the Orioles.
First-year coach Robert Mize bolstered Avon’s schedule with stiffer competition in anticipation of the team he thought would return. As the defending sectional champions, and after bowing out to Zionsville 3-2 in regional play, Mize believed the team had a chance to go far this season.
However, with the loss of No. 1 singles player Grace Langford due to injury, Avon may have a tougher road ahead. Last season, as a freshman, Langford finished 15-1 and was a first-team all-state selection.
“We are disappointed … I hate to see anyone come back from any injury but it is what’s best for (Grace) in the long-term,” Mize said. “Without Grace, we want to maintain our level of play from last season and build on the strengths of our returning players.”
While having Langford would have bolstered Avon’s play, a team is not built around one player and the Orioles have returned a slew of talent from last season’s squad.
Senior Sabrina Becker played No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles last season and looks to be the heir apparent for the No. 1 spot, but nothing is set in stone.
“Sabrina finished last season strong at No. 2 singles,” Mize said. “Erin Pool equally played No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles and could potentially play the No. 1 or 2 spot. We do have a wealth of experience at our singles positions.”
Mize said the strength of the team should come at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions and No. 3 singles.
Senior Brittany Berg will solidify the doubles positions for Avon and Mize said “will help the younger kids coming up.”
Juniors Maddie Jones and Kari Thrasher played different times at No. 3 singles last year and will help Avon in both singles and doubles. Audrie Hillis paired with Berg at No. 2 doubles last season and tied for the second best record on the team.