Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

March 19, 2013

Girls’ county tennis teams take to the court

By Jake Thompson

— County tennis teams are looking for better weather before getting their seasons underway, but all four squads are looking for improvement as none advanced out of the sectional last year.

Brownsburg

Brownsburg headed up the county teams that all shared the same sectional last season, playing Mooresville in the final. The Bulldogs fell 3-2 to the Pioneers, but after graduating only two of its starting seven varsity players, they’re in pretty good shape to begin the season.

Even with a good amount of returning experience, Brownsburg coach Karen Starkey has kept the Bulldogs’ aspirations simple.

“Our overall goals are to build on last year’s success and get stronger in every match so we’re in the hunt for the postseason,” she said.

Senior Emily Doehrman, along with juniors Nicole Weisman, Shelby Hornback, and Yolandi Geldenhuis, all return from last year and Starkey pointed to this group as leaders for the squad.

“They obviously have the most experience at the varsity level of match play, but they really push each other to get to a higher level of play and that sets the tone for the entire team,” she said. “They definitely come to the courts ready to compete. With their offseason work, we expect all of our returning varsity players to capitalize on that preparation and push their game up a notch.”

Weisman earned all-conference honors from her No. 2 slot last season.

Although the Bulldogs bring back a wealth of talent, their results will depend on several factors throughout the year.

“Our ability to develop over the season with new players coming into the mix and players becoming acclimated to new positions will be a huge indicator of our success,” Starkey said.

Brownsburg will utilize a series of tournaments to prepare for the postseason and ready themselves for the challenges of conference play. Brownsburg hosts the HCC tournament in May.

“(It) helps them get a taste of what they need to do to be prepared for the HCC tournament,” Starkey said. “It’s the same format, with three rounds of play in one day, so they have to learn how to maintain their stamina and regroup mentally for a long day of work.”

And the HCC tournament is at the end of a long season of play that can drain a team.

“Our conference is always one of the toughest in the state and this year it will be extremely competitive,” Starkey said. “Last year’s champion, Fishers, returns nearly their entire squad. It’s early for a projection for our finish, but we definitely hope to improve on our finish from last season.

“The inclement weather has limited our practice opportunities thus far, but we’ve been quite impressed with a number of last year’s junior varsity players and our incoming freshmen.”

Avon

Avon finished last season with a 7-7 overall record, compiled a 3-6 conference mark, and placed seventh in the HCC tournament. The Orioles also advanced their No. 1 doubles team of Megan Locke and Mikala Hillis through to regional play.

Locke and Sarah Meronk both graduated, but the Orioles have several returning players.

“Team strengths are returning experience and the fact that the majority of the players have worked extremely hard through lessons and tournaments all summer and winter,” Avon coach Stan Malless said.

Hillis, a senior, comes back, along with juniors Sabrina Becker, Sydney Caskey, Erin Pool, Brittany Berg, and Maddie Jones. All have varsity experience.

Looking to make an impact for the Orioles coming out of the junior varsity ranks from last season are Audrie Hillis and Kari Thrasher.

Malless also expects Grace Langford to be “a very welcome addition,” saying she is “an extremely talented freshman.”

Malless said the Orioles have a good future with many talented players coming up through the ranks.

“The team is very young with 12 freshmen, but they are mostly experienced players,” he said.

Avon will need as much returning experience as possible with tough conference foes and regular season opponents.

“Team goals are a top half finish in the conference, a winning record, a county championship, and ultimately a sectional championship,” Malless said.

Plainfield

Plainfield coach Keith Bradley said the Quakers always have three goals at the beginning of the tennis season and this year is no different.

“Plainfield will be looking to reclaim the triple crown in 2013 by winning county, conference, and sectional,” he said.

To that end, he expects seniors Audrey Koeberlein and Bailey Jackman, along with junior Jessie Rigdon, to “bring the leadership and work ethic” needed to accomplish those goals.

Bradley said all of the team’s goals rely upon “the habits we create in practice.”

Like Brownsburg, the Quakers will play in a separate invitational and their conference tournament to prepare for the rigors of sectional play. Plainfield will travel to Jasper at the beginning of May for a two-day tournament.

Looking to replace one of the seven seniors from last season are juniors Kristen Lees and Arden Allen, as well as freshman Carrie Copeland.

Senior Betsy Gillenwater, junior Missy Mershon, sophomore Betsy Daum, and freshman Natalie Naaman will all challenge for varsity spots.

“We’ll be working hard to enhance the skills of the team in 2013,” Bradley said. “Looking forward to a great season.”

Danville

For the second time in successive seasons, the Danville Warriors will have a new coach. Mike Burdsall is now in charge of the team.

Burdsall has a year of varsity tennis coaching under his belt, but also comes with a variety of other experience including head wrestling coach and assistant stints with the wrestling, girls’ soccer, track, and football teams.

With four seniors gone from a squad that finished 0-6 in Sagamore Conference play last season, the Warriors certainly have work to do.

But with different expectations from a new coach and the give and take that comes from that relationship, it may take some time for everyone to arrive on the same page.

Heading into the year, Burdsall said he wants to “keep it light” until he gets a feel for the team.

“My goal is that the girls will have a lifetime love of tennis and play until they are old ladies,” he said. “It’s early and I haven’t had enough time to evaluate our team or to set our team goals. Since this is my first year as the tennis coach, trying to predict how we’ll finish in any competition is impossible. My feeling is that we’ll be in the top half of our conference.”

Senior Sarah Binkley and junior Anna Eschbach both return with varsity singles experience.

“Anna has looked in good form this first week of practice,” Burdsall said. “She’s worked on her game and I really look forward to coaching her. I hope Sarah can push her for the No. 1 singles spot.”

Senior Megan Hamilton is the lone returner with doubles experience and it looks like she’ll play with freshman Madeline Motes.

Juniors Sarah Shaw and Tara Boling, along with sophomores Molly Dwyer and Marie Summers, will also compete for varsity time.

“I think we have some great leaders on this team and that’s a key for success in any sport,” Burdsall said.

Seniors Ashley Aguilar and Claire Hazelton, along with Aubrie Anderson, Gail Zang, and Tara Boling, will help round out the roster.

With 24 players out for the team, Danville has no shortage of players competing for spots and Burdsall said he “hopes for strength in numbers.”

Danville

For the second time in successive seasons, the Danville Warriors will have a new coach. Mike Burdsall is now in charge of the team.

Burdsall has a year of varsity tennis coaching under his belt, but also comes with a variety of other experience including head wrestling coach and assistant stints with the wrestling, girls’ soccer, track, and football teams.

With four seniors gone from a squad that finished 0-6 in Sagamore Conference play last season, the Warriors certainly have work to do.

But with different expectations from a new coach and the give and take that comes from that relationship, it may take some time for everyone to arrive on the same page.

Heading into the year, Burdsall said he wants to “keep it light” until he gets a feel for the team.

“My goal is that the girls will have a lifetime love of tennis and play until they are old ladies,” he said. “It’s early and I haven’t had enough time to evaluate our team or to set our team goals. Since this is my first year as the tennis coach, trying to predict how we’ll finish in any competition is impossible. My feeling is that we’ll be in the top half of our conference.”

Senior Sarah Binkley and junior Anna Eschbach both return with varsity singles experience.

“Anna has looked in good form this first week of practice,” Burdsall said. “She’s worked on her game and I really look forward to coaching her. I hope Sarah can push her for the No. 1 singles spot.”

Senior Megan Hamilton is the lone returner with doubles experience and it looks like she’ll play with freshman Madeline Motes.

Juniors Sarah Shaw and Tara Boling, along with sophomores Molly Dwyer and Marie Summers, will also compete for varsity time.

“I think we have some great leaders on this team and that’s a key for success in any sport,” Burdsall said.

Seniors Ashley Aguilar and Claire Hazelton, along with Aubrie Anderson, Gail Zang, and Boling, will help round out the roster.

With 24 players out for the team, Danville has no shortage of players competing for spots and Burdsall said he “hopes for strength in numbers.”

Avon

Avon finished last season with a 7-7 overall record, compiled a 3-6 conference mark, and placed seventh in the HCC tournament. The Orioles also advanced their No. 1 doubles team of Megan Locke and Mikala Hillis through to regional play.

Locke and Sarah Meronk both graduated, but the Orioles have several returning players.

“Team strengths are returning experience and the fact that the majority of the players have worked extremely hard through lessons and tournaments all summer and winter,” Avon coach Stan Malless said.

Hillis, a senior, comes back, along with juniors Sabrina Becker, Sydney Caskey, Erin Pool, Brittany Berg, and Maddie Jones. All have varsity experience.

Looking to make an impact for the Orioles coming out of the junior varsity ranks from last season are Audrie Hillis and Kari Thrasher.

Malless also expects Grace Langford to be “a very welcome addition,” saying she is “an extremely talented freshman.”

Malless said the Orioles have a good future with many talented players coming up through the ranks.

“The team is very young with 12 freshmen, but they are mostly experienced players,” he said.

Avon will need as much returning experience as possible with tough conference foes and regular season opponents.

“Team goals are a top half finish in the conference, a winning record, a county championship, and ultimately a sectional championship,” Malless said.

Plainfield

Plainfield coach Keith Bradley said the Quakers always have three goals at the beginning of the tennis season and this year is no different.

“Plainfield will be looking to reclaim the triple crown in 2013 by winning county, conference, and sectional,” he said.

To that end, he expects seniors Audrey Koeberlein and Bailey Jackman, along with junior Jessie Rigdon, to “bring the leadership and work ethic” needed to accomplish those goals.

Bradley said all of the team’s goals rely upon “the habits we create in practice.”

Like Brownsburg, the Quakers will play in a separate invitational and their conference tournament to prepare for the rigors of sectional play. Plainfield will travel to Jasper at the beginning of May for a two-day tournament.

Looking to replace one of the seven seniors from last season are juniors Kristen Lees and Arden Allen, as well as freshman Carrie Copeland.

Senior Betsy Gillenwater, junior Missy Mershon, sophomore Betsy Daum, and freshman Natalie Naaman will all challenge for varsity spots.

“We’ll be working hard to enhance the skills of the team in 2013,” Bradley said. “Looking forward to a great season.”