Apr. 8—Of the four coaches who guided the Vigo County and Northview girls high school tennis teams during their last completed season, 2019, only one is still there.
That would be Janet Rowe at Terre Haute South, which reached the semistate championship match to Park Tudor two years ago before sitting out the 2020 campaign with all of the other Indiana spring squads because of the state's COVID-19 guidelines.
"It was very disappointing to lose our 2020 season," Rowe told the Tribune-Star. "I had 12 seniors who did not get their senior season [my daughter being one] and all of the fun that comes with being a senior, including making the uniform choice, seeing their senior banners hanging on the fence and celebrating Senior Night at a home match. I am thankful that tennis is a life sport, so it wasn't the end of their sport for them. There are always opportunities out there in the tennis world for them to play competitively or recreationally, wherever their love for the game takes them."
In 2021, the coaches are Amanda Lubold at Terre Haute North; Kasey Chew at West Vigo; and 21-year-old and 2018 Northview graduate Elle Tipton, who replaced Emily Goff, at Northview. Lubold and Chew were ready to assume their new duties last season before the pandemic temporarily wrecked the world.
"It was certainly disappointing to not have a season last year," Lupold said. "It was my first season as head coach, so I didn't get the experience of working with the team in any meaningful way. Most disappointing, however, was the loss that the senior girls faced. We had quite a few seniors on the team and I know the loss of the season was heartbreaking for many of the girls."
"We were in the middle of conditioning when we learned of the schools shutting down, but we were still hopeful that we would be back in time for our first practice of the season," Chew noted. "When we received the news that schools were not to return, we were all devastated. We graduated six excited and dedicated seniors last year. Losing an entire season hurt so many of our upperclassmen for experience and recruiting reasons, many of whom seek opportunities in collegiate-level athletics. It also was a year of practice lost for all players. We just have to understand that we weren't the only ones going through the loss and that we are just going to need to build our season back twice as strong."
South got in its first match Wednesday, defeating Vincennes Lincoln 3-2 with Lainey Anshutz winning at No. 1 singles and the doubles duos of Morgan Williams-Abby Joy and Ayden Zinkovich-Emily Wilson also emerging triumphant. Sydney Williams and Briley Ireland played Nos. 2 and 3 singles respectively.
"I have no one returning with a full season of varsity experience," Rowe pointed out. "I have one senior who has played for the team two seasons, Lainey Anshutz, and she will be leading the team this year. I have some juniors as well who have played one previous season."
Before Northview's season opener against White River Valley at home Wednesday (results not reported yet), Tipton told the Tribune-Star: "We have a couple players returning from the 2019 season whom we are excited to see what they accomplish this year. Brooklee Bussing and Cassia Coulter are two solid players. Layla Lee is a very talented doubles player. Sierra Paul has put in a lot of work in the off season and will be fun to watch.
"Jinna Hyatt and Sydney Maurer are both super aggressive players who are very adaptable. They are very easy to coach and I'm excited to work more with them during the season and see what they are capable of. Caroline Kooistra has a great, enthusiastic attitude that I appreciate and think all players should have a little more of. Marlei Fisher is another player in the varsity lineup who brings a calm vibe to the court and is a very level-headed player."
Lubold also offered an optimistic look at her Patriots before they play their first match Monday at Greencastle. So did Chew about her Vikings after they edged Covington 3-2 Tuesday at Covington.
"We have a strong lineup of junior and senior girls who will form the backbone of our team," Lubold assessed. "Averie Shore, a senior this year, is committed to play at Marian University next year and will be a key asset at the top of our lineup. Juniors Caroline Effner, Olivia Effner and Maylee Brown also will be instrumental in our success."
"Even though we graduated the majority of the team last year, we are very excited for our only senior Kaitlin Whitford's return," Chew said. "She carried the 2018 season at the No. 1 singles position as a freshman and had a very successful sophomore season with the Vikings. Her accuracy and poise while on the court will help lead this young team.
"We are also excited for juniors Ellie Easton and Keegan Beeler, both powerhouse multi-sport athletes at West Vigo, and sophomores Avery Lasecki and Abigail Meehan and incoming freshman Maddie Bradbury, all of whom bring a tremendous amount of talent to the program. Our team is full of character, personality and heart. Pauline DeBaun and Emily Gabbard make hard practices rewarding with their fun personalities. Corrine Houghton is passionate, dedicated and supportive of her teammates and Ellie Davis, a sophomore, and Keira Anderson, a freshmen, have exceeded all expectations in regard to learning the game. I look forward to a fun and rewarding season with this group."
In beating Covington the other day, the Vikings got wins from Whitford, Easton and Lasecki at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 singles respectively. The doubles slots were occupied by Meehan-Gabbard and Davis-DeBaun.
West Vigo was slated to visit South for its second match Thursday afternoon.