Wildcat tennis arranging piecesMarch 24, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Jasper girls tennis coach Scott Yarbrough is finding himself putting in a different lineup this spring than the one he had two years ago.
The Wildcats graduated some key singles pieces in 2020 when they lost No. 1 singles player Taylor Marshall and No. 3 singles player Emma Reutepohler. Suchi Bandaru made it to the individual state doubles semifinals with Scott's daughter Josie Yarbrough, but Bandaru is gone, and Josie is likely going to be the team's No. 1 singles player her senior season.
"The one thing that we had a couple years ago, and I don't mind saying this, we probably had our two best players at one-doubles," Scott said.
Fellow senior Priyal Sharma was the team's No. 2 singles in 2019, but Scott said on March 8 that Josie was ahead of Sharma on the challenge ladder two years ago, hence the likelihood of Josie getting the No. 1 singles spot.
Josie and Priyal amongst the Wildcats back from the team's lineup two years ago, along with junior Delaney Wigand, who played at No.2 doubles. He estimated that the players with the most experience after those three are sophomores Allie Schnarr and Ally Wigand.
Scott said Jasper could "easily" have five or six different lineups during the first half of the season, and he told the Herald in a text message on Tuesday that he probably has 10 or 11 girls who could play on varsity this spring. He's gone as far as to say that his players might still compete in challenges, even after the season begins.
He's looking to Delaney to play doubles again this year because she has that experience as a doubles player, whereas Josie has played both at singles and doubles in her high school career. Scott hopes Delaney will play in the No. 1 doubles spot, and she could play with somebody like Sharma, Schnarr or Ally.
"Delaney is the only one name in my mind right now that is coming back that I can see playing in the doubles, 100 percent," Scott said. "Other than that, it would be a total guess."
Scott enters this season with a lot of questions, but one thing he does know is that the Wildcats will see a lot of quality opponents in their regular season tournaments that will get them ready for the postseason — as they try to win their 31st girls tennis sectional in a row. As Jasper tries to make it to state, Scott knows the importance of getting his doubles combinations sorted out.
"We need to find combinations that work on the court," he said. "So, that is always a high priority in any season I go into, and the sooner you can do that, that means the more matches that they get to play together."
Jasper will deal with formidable competition in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference this year — citing Evansville Memorial as the favorite. Scott said the Tigers might be one of the top two or three teams in the state, since a lot of players are coming back from 2019, while Castle and Evansville North also present challenges to the Wildcats.
Scott believes Jasper's goal should be to win the SIAC, but he knows just how tough of a team Memorial is going to be. The Wildcats are scheduled to have their first regular season match April 5 at Evansville Memorial — getting to see the Tigers right out of the gate.
"We'll be ready to go," Scott said. "We'll still show up, we'll bring the girls down and everything will be a good experience this year because we're just so young from an experience standpoint."
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