Expectations high for area tennis teams

Herald File Photos
Suchi Bandaru is one of the returning members for a Jasper girls tennis team that is coming off of its fourth straight trip to the IHSAA State Finals. While the Cats will have some brand new varsity members this season, there's no denying that the expectations of success remain the same. 

By JONATHAN SAXON

jsaxon@dcherald.com

Dust off the visors and tighten up those rackets as the spring tennis season is upon us in southern Indiana. The boys had their time in the fall, but now it’s the girls turn to take to the courts and show off those serves as they aim to send everything they can back across the net with great velocity and heat. Here’s a look at what to expect from this season's girls tennis squads.

Jasper Wildcats

Last Season: Finished 19-5, won conference, sectional, regional and semistate titles, defeated by Indianapolis Cathedral 4-1 in state semifinals.

Opening Match: April 4 vs. Providence.

Returning Players: Hadley Meyer (Sr.), Mackenzie Cooley (Sr.), Emma Reutepohler (Jr.), Taylor Marshall (Jr.), Suchi Bandaru (Jr.), Josie Yarbrough (So.), Priyal Sharma (So.), Gracie Sunderman (So.), Lexi King (So.), Sydney Small (So.).

Key Newcomers: Delaney Wigand (Fr.), Avery Bartley (Fr.).

Notable: Jasper is coming off of another high achieving season for its girls tennis program that saw the Wildcats not only win their 29th consecutive sectional title, but also make a run in the state tournament for the fourth year in a row. This season, the Wildcats will be looking toward reloading their lineup with coach Scott Yarbrough hoping to use the early portion of Jasper’s schedule to figure out which players can move up in the order and replace the seniors from last season’s team. But Yarbrough thinks the returning players, even the ones with little or no previous varsity time, can lean on last year’s experience and use that to build another competitive season for the Wildcats.

Jasper will be bringing in three players with prior varsity experience from last season’s run. Hadley Meyer filled in at various doubles spots, while Suchi Bandaru and Josie Yarbrough both played major roles in propelling Jasper to the state tournament in the No. 2 and No. 3 singles roles respectively last season. Outside of them there are a host of girls that will be in the mix for the open singles and doubles spots in the lineup which include: Mackenzie Cooley, Taylor Marshall, Emma Reutepohler, Priyal Sharma, Delaney Wigand and Avery Bartley. Yarbrough said no final decisions have been made at where everyone will land, as he will be using the first half of the season to experiment and see where the players all fit best for the team.  

Quotable: “Our schedule will do a great job of preparing our girls,” said Yarbrough. “We may have to get knocked down a few times before we get up and learn our lesson. But I think the type of girls I have on the team are resilient enough to learn and get better. It’ll be a lot of fun watching these girls.”

Southridge's Evie Sherer, left, and Audra Hochgesang are two of the returning members of the Raiders girls tennis team for this season. The Raiders open up their 2019 campaign with a home match against Evansville Christian tonight. 

Southridge Raiders

Last Season: Finished 15-2, defeated by Jasper 5-0 in sectional final.

Opening Match: April 1 vs. Evansville Christian.

Returning Players: Elizabeth Fleck (Jr.), Camille Fleming (Jr.), Audra Hochgesang (Jr.), Anna Kappner (Jr.), Evie Sherer (Jr.), Sasia Walz (Jr.), Abigail Wright (Jr.), Abigail Kerkhoff (So.), Corey Peters (So.), Gabbie Werner (So.).

Key Newcomers: Olivia Durcholz (Fr.), Kelby LaRoche (Fr.), Jordan Biehl (Fr.).

Notable: Southridge has been enjoying a resurgent wave in its girls tennis program as the Raiders have finished each of the last two seasons with less than three losses. But Raider head coach Rhonda Diekhoff is faced with the challenge of replacing seven seniors from last season’s team, so she and the team will be treating this season as a rebuilding period. While she still hopes to grow and develop a solid core that can stand up to the competition of the season, Diekoff thinks that the real payoff for a season like this will be realized over the next few years for Southridge.

Evie Sherer will be promoted to the No. 1 singles spot this season, and Olivia Durcholz will be bringing her racket into the No. 2 singles spot. The third singles spot will be a joint effort between Elizabeth Fleck and Kelby LaRoche. Audra Hochgesang and Camille Fleming will be holding down the first doubles slot. Diekhoff is looking at four girls as she finalizes the other doubles team: Anna Kappner, Gabbie Werner, Corey Peters, and freshman Jordan Biehl. Diekhoff said all four girls are similar in skill level and she may treat the second doubles team like the No. 3 singles spot, rotating the girls in lineup to see what works best.  

Quotable: “My hope is to do just as well as we have the last two years,” said Diekhoff. “But with a rebuild year you have to keep it in perspective. We may see more of the results next year than this year, but that’s okay.”

Forest Park Rangers

Last Season: Finished 6-9, defeated by Southridge 3-2 in sectional.

Opening Match: April 2 at Paoli.

Returning Players: Haylie Marks (Jr.), Leah Wilmes (Jr.), Ava Hamilton (So.), Molly Lusk (So.), Kaylee Uebelhor (So.).

Key Newcomers: Brooke Haug (Fr.).

Notable: It looks like this may be a learning/growing kind of spring for the Forest Park girls tennis team. Ranger head coach Jennifer Lusk will be bringing aboard five freshmen this season, and she’ll only have three girls with varsity experience after one of her former players decided not to return to the team this year. Still, Lusk is optimistic about this group of girls, whom she called hard workers that are willing to learn. Practice and repetition will be the key for them as they grow as a team and for the time being Lusk wants to see her team get more aggressive at the net to win points instead of just settling for comfortable volleys back and forth.

Brooke Haug will be the No. 1 singles player for the Rangers this spring, while Haylie Marks and Leah Wilmes will occupy the No. 2 and No. 3 singles spots respectively. Molly Lusk will be moved to the first doubles team where she’ll be joined by Kaylee Uebelhor. No final decisions have been made for No. 2 doubles spot, which Lusk said is wide open for the remaining players to demonstrate their claim to it.

Quotable: “I definitely think we can be a competitor for a conference title,” said Lusk. “I’d like to see them go out and have a winning record.”

Chloe Terwiske will continue her extremely successful tennis career this season for the Northeast Dubois girls tennis team. Terwiske has gone undefeated during the last two regular seasons. 

Northeast Dubois Jeeps

Last Season: Finished 15-3, claimed a share of the conference title, lost to Barr-Reeve 3-2 in sectional.

Returning Players: Delaney Rasche (Sr.), Paige Knies (Sr.), Chloe Terwiske (Jr.), Alexis Stafford (Jr.), Olivia Schroering (Jr.), Shambly Sorrells (Jr.), Olivia Rasche (So.), Courtney Vittitow, Allisa Worley (So.), Breanna Holden (So.).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Notable: The Northeast Dubois Jeeps are excited for the season as they have all of their girls returning from last year’s conference champions. Jeep head coach Tina Terwiske has the luxury of continuity when it comes to her core group of players, and she believes they can rebound from last season’s sectional loss by putting together another solid season enroute to carving their way to the sectional final. Terwiske also wants her girls to develop more of a killer instinct on the court this season, as she feels that there were times where her players coasted during matches instead of putting their foot on the gas and finishing points against off-balance opponents.

Chloe Terwiske, who has gone undefeated in the last two regular seasons, will be anchoring the Jeeps at the No. 1 singles spot. Olivia Schroering and Paige Knies are two of the leading candidates for the No. 2 singles spot which was vacated. The rest of the spots are open, which Terwiske sees as positive side effect of the girls' versatility. That said the team has a number of girls that Terwiske has used is various singles and doubles roles over the years. Alexis Stafford will likely be in a doubles spot and Olivia Rasche is also competing for the second singles slot.

Quotable: “The team can definitely be successful if they stay healthy,” said Terwiske. “Our Blue Chip Conference is very competitive, we’ve always been right in it. We’re hoping we can battle for that title this year.”

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last Season: Finished 15-4, defeated by Castle 4-0 in sectional final.

Opening Match: April 1 vs Wood Memorial.

Returning Players: Carly Sabelhaus (Sr.), Mallory Tempel (Jr.), Kya Weatherholt (Jr.), Avery Neff (So.), Liz Mehling (So.), Emily Patmore (So.), Braili Schipp (So.).

Key Newcomers: N/A

Notable: Dave Jochim will be donning his coach's hat again this spring, but instead of golf he’ll be working with the tennis team. While Jochim may be new to the team this season, he has prior experience coaching tennis with his wife at Forest Park. In his eyes, Jochim is reinventing himself as he works with the Patriots. His main focuses so far has been improving on his team’s footwork and prepared to move around the court to send back any and everything across the net. Jochim said that Gibson Southern will be the team’s biggest conference challenge this season, but he believes that the team is talented enough be competitive with the rest of the squads that line the PAC.

Jochim said he has the team’s lineup worked out, but he chose to be mum on the details as he hadn’t shared his decision with the girls yet. But, he was willing to share that Carly Sabelhaus would be the No. 1 singles player for the Patriots this year. Jochim said she’s a tough, quick player that’s played all four years for the Patriots and is ready to bring a dogfight with her whenever she steps on the court.

Quotable: “I told the girls my expectations are we get better every time we come out to the courts. Give me total effort and a good attitude and you’ll go far,” said Jochim. “Work on something to improve. By the end of the year we’ll make tremendous strides, they’ll be fine.”




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