With five 2017 league tournament champs returning, Shawnee appears very capable of securing another Western Buckeye League team championship in girls tennis this year.
“Considering that our team is returning six out of seven varsity letter winners, our expectation and hope is that we will come out on top again in the WBL,” Indians coach Nate Higgins said.
Leading the way is 2017 WBL first singles champ junior Alotus Wei. Others who claimed WBL tourney titles last year include sophomore Aria Patel in second singles, the first doubles team of senior Sanjana Rajasekaran and junior Katie Clark and senior Ella Atkinson who claimed the second doubles title with 2018 graduate Marley Evans. Also returning is sophomore Kunmi Ojo, who finished second in third singles in the league tourney.
Patel and Rajasekaran and Clark qualified for Division I districts with fourth-place sectional finishes.
“We would like to have more players qualify (for D-I districts) and also return to the state tournament, the first time in quite a while,” Higgins said. One way that we would like to prepare for this is to play more matches with other Division I schools during the regular season.”
St. Marys has a few varsity spots to fill after finishing as WBL runner-up in 2017.
Senior Clare Caywood returns after making it to the league first singles tournament championship match and winning the UNOH D-II sectional title also in singles. Junior Allie Vanderhorst is slated to play singles this year after finishing thirdin the WBL first doubles bracket in 2017 with senior Kara Danaher, who also returns.
“We have some returning and experienced players who are passionate about tennis to lead the team,” Roughriders coach Mariah Krugh said. “Many of our players are seniors this year. They will be great role models for the underclassmen and set high expectations.”
Senior Madison Schroeder is back for Wapakoneta, which finished third overall in 2017 in the league, after finishing third in D-I sectional doubles with 2018 grad Makayla Schroeder and third in second singles in the WBL tourney. Also back are sophomore letter winners Madison Snider, Ellie Schroyer, Alyssa Good and Casey Minnig. Good and Minnig teamed up to finish second in second doubles in the league tourney. Snider was fourth in the league tourney in third singles.
“We are a very young team that will see four sophomores and a couple freshmen play regularly,” Redskins coach Roy Gillespie said. “Our girls have been working hard since the end of last year’s season to get better, and I believe we can compete for a league championship if we continue to show the improvements we have made throughout the winter and summer.”
Singles players junior Gracie Babes and senior Sierra Zuercher return for Celina, which was fourth overall in the WBL. Zuercher finished fourth last year in second singles at the league tourney.
“The good news is we have our first and second singles girls returning,” Bulldogs coach Jan Morrison said. “The bad news is we are young and inexperienced at the other positions. I expect this team will improve much during the season as they gain experience.”
Sophomore Ruby Bolon prevented a Shawnee sweep in the WBL tourney by winning the third singles title for Bath, which was fifth in the final league standings. Other returning letter winners for the Wildkittens include senior Regan Canter, junior Fayme Ghandi and sophomore Esther Bolon, who teamed with Ruby to win the UNOH D-II sectional doubles crown. Esther Bolon also was third in first singles at the WBL tourney.
“As with each season, I am both excited and anxious to see how the team comes together,” Bath coach Sandy Dackin said. “With two district qualifiers from the 2017 season returning, the level of expectation is greater. Having those accomplishments from last year will aid in pushing other teammates to the next level. I look forward to the increased sense of competitiveness during practices as well as matches.”
Senior Liv Kline and junior Paige Moonshower return after finishing fourth in first doubles in the league tourney for Van Wert, which was sixth overall in the WBL. Other letter winners back for the Cougars include singles players junior Alli Morrow and sophomore Allie Etter.
“We have an exciting mix of returning junior varsity and first time players fighting for our second doubles spot, and a healthy competition among returning letter winners and first JV alternates for our first, second and third singles spots,” Van Wert coach Eli Alvarez said. “Overall, we have a great group of girls who love the sport, enjoy being around one another and are looking to turn some heads in WBL this season, which fits perfectly with our team motto this year of ‘take care of the team and the team will take care of you.’ ”
Senior letter winners and singles players Annie Sayoto and Madalyn Schomber return for Elida, which was seventh in the WBL overall in 2017.
“We return two varsity players from last year so we are young and rebuilding but still very excited and optimistic for the season ahead,” Bulldogs coach Jason Selhorst said. “We look forward to being competitive in the WBL and sending players deep into the tournament. We believe the hard work that the girls have put in will lead to a very successful season.”
Letter winners back for Ottawa-Glandorf, eighth in the WBL overall last year, include seniors Mariah Schroeder, Lindsey Schneeg, Chelsea Padroski, Kerri Ellerbrock and Alysha Verhoff, junior Addie Schmiedebusch and sophomore Emma Schmiedebusch. All of them competed in the WBL tourney and UNOH D-II sectional in 2017.
“We return a very experienced team and hope to build on the end of season success,” O-G coach Brian Barhorst said.
Returning letter winners for Kenton, which was ninth in the final league standings, include seniors Kelsey Flowers, Abby Hartshorn, Elizabeth Heinstz and Abby Oberlitner and juniors Mykaela Schriber and Kayce Sherman.
“We are very excited for our opportunity as a team this upcoming season,”Wildcats coach Katie Isenbarger said. “We have a strong returning team that all have had positive attitudes about this upcoming season. Our team has put in the practice and worked on their serve, consistency and mental game and look forward to see what the season holds.
Sectional D-II singles finalist junior Oliva Kesner returns as does classmate and Maddie Brinkman, who reached the sectional doubles final with 2018 graduate Maddie Moore, for Lima Central Catholic. Junior Anna Janowski reached the sectional quarterfinals also for the Thunderbirds. Morgan Chaney competed for LCC in sectional singles as a freshman as did Ally Oravitz in doubles for LCC. Letter winner sophomore Nicole Patricio-Agosto also returns for the Thunderbirds.
“I am anticipating that we will have a successful year,” LCC coach Kevin Bruin said. “We have a number of talented returning letter winners and they are eager to play.”
Junior Erin Hotmire competed in singles and seniors Caity Zimmerman and Amelia Mitchell teamed up for doubles in the D-II UNOH sectional for Bluffton.
Senior Hailey Bartels and junior Hope Contreas played singles and junior Lydia Henry in doubles for Lima Senior at Division I sectionals in Findlay.
Reach Mike Purdy at 567-242-0451.