With each of the area tennis teams now on solid footing – literally – the season is now about to get underway for the Redskins, Coalers and Indians.
A couple of years ago, Coal City got brand-new courts and just this year the Morris school board approved a complete overhaul of the courts where the hometown Redskins play. Over in Minooka, the Indians have been in a state-of-the art facility for years now, so its safe to say that the playing field has been leveled.
It will be the coaching debut for Redskins coach Becky Ortega when the locals host Coal City at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Our goals for this season are to focus on consistency and to play the best we can,” Ortega said.
The lineup Ortego expects Thursday against the Coalers includes: Megan Davy, Emma Dingbaum and Sarah Roth as singles players and the doubles teams of Leah Lines and Monica Davy, Savannah Carter and Alyssa Larsen and Carly Williamson and Mary Bush.
In regards to the coming season, Ortega said everyone should be viewed as formidable.
“It’s hard to say which teams will be the ones to beat this year, but our first doubles team of Monica Davy and Leah Lines did qualify for state last year,” Ortega said.
And a heavy favorite to do it again this year as juniors.
Coal City Coalers
This will also be the debut for Coal City coach Matt Lehman as the girls head coach, though he has been coaching tennis for years at CCHS on the boys side.
“I have stepped up from assistant coach for the past four years into the role of varsity head coach, hoping to fill the shoes of a great coach and friend, Jackie Larson, who took players to the state tournament two years in a row,” Lehman said. “Our team goal, as always, is to have a winning season, and individual goals range from winning their first varsity match to making it past sectionals.”
The projected starting lineup for the Coalers includes Ashlynn Hansen and Carli Mginn at singles with doubles teams of Taylor Sandeno and Carly Seeley, Krissie Hadden and Katie Mginn and Gabby Sander and Kailey Albrecht.
“This is a less experienced team coming off of a strong graduating class. We are looking for our seniors ... to step into those roles and have the same success,” Lehman said. “We also have some talented sophomores, who made tremendous gains as freshman who will be making their varsity debuts this season. All of the top eight are close in skill and they have a passion for the game.”
Nine seniors anchor this year’s squad for the Indians, including Alyssa Aspan and Lacey Viano.
“I’m predicting they will be our No. 1 doubles team,” Minooka veteran coach Jessica Carter said.
Also returning is the team of Gabby Muir and Shannon Norton.
“I’m predicting they will be our No. 2 doubles team,” Carter said. “Though the rest of the positions are currently to be earned.”
In addition to the four aforementioned seniors, the other five seniors on the team are Bethany Bachmann, Kathleen Baily, Shelby Kirkpatrick, Janile Rogers and Katie Studer.
Juniors on the varsity roster this year are Lilly Binig, Taylor Carl, Claire Dobry, Alyssa Isrealson, Abby Kirkpatrick and Rachel Schoell.
Minooka competes in the Southwest Prairie Conference, but Carter said there is one team in particular who they pay special attention to.
“Traditionally, Oswego is our rival,” she said. “It’s always a goal to beat Oswego.”