MUNSTER | Nikki Heiniger enjoyed a great deal of success last season for Munster.
As a No. 1 doubles player, she teamed with the now-graduated Paige Heuer. Heiniger and her teammate placed third in the state, losing in the semifinal round of the 2013 doubles state tournament to Evansville Memorial.
This season, however, Heiniger is all by herself. The Mustangs junior is now filling the No. 1 singles role, where she is 7-3 through 10 matches.
It's been a bit of a learning experience, as playing singles doesn't leave as much room for mistakes during matches.
"It's a lot different," she said. "You're all by yourself, so you have nobody to fall back on. You just have to work the points more because you have the whole court to work with."
Heiniger had two siblings excel playing tennis at Munster, so she has been fortunate to glean lots of information from them. Her brother, Jack, graduated in 2013, while sister Rachel graduated in 2010. Nikki has been playing tennis since she was 8 years old.
"I didn't want to play tennis, but my whole family did, so I just did," she said. "I played a lot with Rachel. I learned a lot from watching them play, because I always watched them at all their matches. I learned how to play the points."
New Munster coach Patrick Spohr knows what kind of talent he inherited with the Mustangs. It starts with Heiniger, who has served as a team leader this season.
"I think her consistency is definitely improving," Spohr said. "From the beginning of the season, I would say accuracy towards serving, and placing the serves. She has improved from the beginning of the season to right now. Hopefully, we can continue to improve on that as we move from the second half of the season to the postseason."
Munster has won a state record 37 consecutive sectional championships and 28 total regional championships. Winning a 38th straight sectional title is clearly on Heiniger's radar, but it doesn't end there.
"I'm hoping as a team, we make it far into the postseason," she said. "I just want to say I played well every match and tried my best."