Number one singles is somewhat of a surreal tennis setting for Portage senior Kacie McGuire.
"I didn't even know if I wanted to go out for it as a freshman," McGuire said. "I never thought I would get to this point."
McGuire played No. 2 doubles as a sophomore, then she went 10-5 at No. 2 singles last season.
She won 7-5, 3-2 (retired) Tuesday in her season-opening match against Wheeler.
McGuire has impressed Joe White in his two seasons as Portage coach.
"She's made remarkable progress," White said of McGuire. "She's clearly the best player on the team, and she's come the furthest."
McGuire assumes a role that has been in high regard with the program for several years. The last two No. 1 singles players at Portage, Tasha Sever and Carly Bermes, held the spot for a combined seven seasons. Each advanced to the regional finals of the IHSAA individual tournament at least once, and Sever made it to the state quarterfinals as a junior.
"It's almost been an automatic point for us at No. 1 for quite a while," McGuire said. "I don't know if I feel pressure, but I want to do what I can to come close to them."
McGuire hit in practice with Bermes last year, but White said his new No. 1 player couldn't just rest on those workouts from last season.
"She had to keep working, or she would lose that progress," he said. "She's continued to hit, and she's improved."
In the offseason, McGuire took lessons for the first time in high school. White said McGuire spent post-practice time Monday hitting at least an extra bucket of balls, trying to refine her new top-spin serve.
"I know I'm going to face some really tremendous players this season," she said. "In the past, I've been able to win, because I was in better shape. It was more about being a better athlete. Now I've got to be a better tennis player."
White feels McGuire has what it takes to be successful -- even at this higher level.
"She's very tough-minded. That will keep her in matches," White said. "She's also really good at keeping the ball in play. She's now recognizing when to go on the attack, and she can finish with a volley or overhead.
"She has no fear on the court."