Duneland Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Meg Modesto, Fr.; J.J. Lee, So.; Margaret Shinn, Jr.; Sunny Lee, Sr.; Bobbi Modesto, Sr.
Outlook: The younger Modesto is a key addition to the lineup, providing depth in the lineup and possibly giving the Trojans the strongest singles trio in the area.
Quote: "The only thing I know right now is Bobbi is at No. 1 singles. I know Meg is an aweseome single players, but now I have so many options on where we can get our three points." !~ coach Gretchen Shinn
Players to watch: Kelsey Ingelhart, Sr.; Amber Hawarth, Jr.; Abby Kvachkoff, So.
Outlook: The Bulldogs have three returnees from last year's sectional championship team. Fourth-year coach Brian Elston is excited by the fact that most of the team put in a lot of off-season work on their game. A tough DAC schedule will make the Dogs battle-tested by postseason.
Quote: "The girls have had a great start to the season. We lost both of our doubles teams from last year so we have some big shoes to fill.” !~ Elston
Players to watch: Anna Weber, Jr.; Brittany Warzyniak, Jr.; Angela Gerlach, So.; Bre Falcone, So.
Outlook: Graduation took away five starters from last year's 7-7 (2-5) team. But Coach Bryan Szalonek is optimistic about the talented JV girls fighting for positions. One major goal this season for the Indians is to improve on their DAC record.
Quote: "We have a very young and athletic team who will grind it out in every match. We will have a lot of depth from one through seven." !~ Szalonek
Players to watch: Caroline Boger, Fr.; Morgan Sandelski, Sr.; Alison Searle, Sr.
Outlook: Searle edged Boger for the No. 1 spot, and that gives coach Melissa Pfeifer confidence in her singles depth.
Quote: "We've picked up some depth, so we can pick up more points this year." !~ Pfeifer
Players to watch: Morgan Lamb Sr.; Lauren Carniello, Sr.; Miranda Vega, Jr.
Outlook: Last year the Pirates posted a 1-15 record as they dealt with growing pains on several fronts. Many of the girls spent the offseason playing in tournaments to improve their game. Third-year coach Kyle Prow expects to see a much better team with much better results, especially within the DAC.
Quote: "On paper, we should be better than last year. I look for us to place in the middle of the conference standings and have a shot at our sectional.” !~ Prow
Players to watch: Ashleigh Ellenwood, Sr.; Allante' Wright, Sr.
Outlook: Don Varda replaced veteran coach Norm Bruemmer. Ellenwood and graduate Lauren Palmer advanced to the state quarterfinals in doubles last season. Wright is the lone singles player returning, while freshman Kristen Palmer -- Lauren's younger sister -- is part of a strong group of underclassmen coming to the lineup.
Quote: "(Bruemmer) set up a tremendous situation for me. I'm very optimistic about what we can do." !~ Varda
Players to watch: Mandy Haupt, So,; Bailey Lauritzen, Jr.; Lauren Zack, Jr.; Michelle Comeford, Sr.; Casey McGuire, Sr.
Outlook: No. 1 Carly Bermes graduated, but coach Joe White believes his overall singles lineup will be stronger this year. McGuire is at No. 1, Zack is at No. 2, while Haupt and Comeford will battle for the final singles spot.
Quote: "We're not the lone school who lost seniors, and we're just trying to find players to fill the gap. All of them have improved or upgraded their game." !~ White
Players to watch: Kelly Kennedy, So.; Caitlin Kennedy, So.; Sonja Schaefer, Sr.
Outlook: The defending regional champions return their top two singles players -- Kelly Kennedy will start the season at No. 1 -- and Schaefer, who is the team's lone senior.
Quote: "We're rebuilding, but we have a great base to start with." !~ coach Tim Shideler
Greater South Shore Conference
Players to watch: Tate Hickey, Sr.; Andrea Lopez, Jr.; Alejandra Almandez, Jr.
Outlook: The Warriors lost two starters to graduation. Returnees Hickey, Lopez, and Almandez will be counted on to lead the defending sectional champs back to the winners circle. Coach Steve Tapia has 18 girls on the courts daily, which bodes well for the present and the future.
Quote: "We want to keep improving, so we can be primed by the time sectional rolls around." !~ Tapia
Players to watch: Lyndsey DiGiacomo, Sr.; Tiffany Matuszczak, Sr.; Arianna Eckman, Jr.; Destiny Fleming, Jr.
Outlook: The Warriors have a new coach this season in Crystal Ham, who took over the reins from Jerry Tauber. Ham has instituted a set of assessment tools to help the girls measure their performance and progress. With 22 girls out on the courts daily, things are looking up for the program.
Quote: "We are working hard on team culture, trying to get all of the girls on the same page. They are a very athletic bunch who play in other sports, and that is helping them a lot this spring.” !~ Ham
Players to watch: Amber Dwyer, Sr.; Kelsey Lemley, Sr.
Outlook: The Eagles will be led by Dwyer and Lemley as they try to hold on to the sectional title they wrestled away from arch-rival River Forest last year. Several of last years' underclassmen now have a year of varsity experience under their belt, which should help during the season. Coach Kristie Hite has worked hard to recruit athletes from basketball to help bolster the program.
Players to watch: Abbigail Schmidt, Fr.; Kendall Shinn, Jr.
Outlook: With the graduation of its top two players, Shinn moves up two spots to No. 1 singles this season for new coach Jay Adams. Schmidt is a welcome addition to the lineup, and she has already a spot in the lineup.
Quote: "Any time you lose two of your top-four players, it's always going to be a challenge. This will be a big adjustment for Kendall." !~ Adams
Players to watch: Rekia Duff, Sr.; Milagro Miranda, Jr.; Gabby Gonzalez, Jr.
Outlook: Beau Bruemmer takes over as coach of the Ingots. The team lost four starters to graduation, but picked up a total of 10 freshmen and sophomores who had not played competitive tennis previously. Bruemmer will do a lot of mixing and matching during the first half of the season as he works to find the right combinations.
Quote: “We have a lot of dedication and determination up and down the courts, so I expect we will do a lot better as the season progresses.” !~ Bruemmer
Players to watch: Shelby Loftus, Jr.; Jackie Ruchti, Jr.; Olivia Ingram, Sr.
Outlook: The Bearcats graduated a strong senior class, so defending the league crown will be tougher. Ingram moves up to No. 1 singles. Four players who bided their time on junior varsity move up. The list includes Loftus, who will start at No. 2 in Tuesday's season opener. Her sister Kaylin is part of the graduated cast,
Quote: "It just comes down to putting these players in a position to play varsity, letting them trust themselves to hit the ball and believing they belong in these spots." !~ coach Mike Rosta
Players to watch: Jazmyne Henderson, Sr.; Danielle Weems, Sr.
Outlook: Last year the Oilers finished with a 10-5 record. Coach Arthur Young has set the bar higher this season, working with the players to broaden their skill set. The team lost three seniors to graduation, including standout Megan Jakovich.
Quote: "This group of girls has a chance to be the best team, as far as one through seven. We have a nice blend of youth and experience, and everyone on the team seems eager to get better." !~ Young
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Lily Villicana, Sr.; Stephanie Richards, Jr.
Outlook: The Pioneers have 10 returners from last year’s team. Coach Roni Dupey has 35 girls competing for varsity spots this year, and looks for a few younger players to step up. A move to the Lake Station sectional should help postseason aspirations.
Quote: "We believe we can do very well in conference and the city tournament. We want a win in sectional play this year." !~ Dupey
Players to watch: Krysten Warden, Sr.; Monique Michaels, Jr; Alondra Macias, Jr.; Annika Wirsching, So.
Outlook: The Gladiators have new coaches this season. Meg Doughmain takes over as head coach, and Courtney Smith as her assistant. Several players return from last year’s .500 squad. The various levels of varsity experience, mixed with underclass youth, should provide Gavit with a good blend of leadership and enthusiasm. The team should improve as the chemistry solidifies during the season.
Quote: “We will get better as the year progresses and the girls get a few matches under their belts.” – Doughman
Players to watch: Pilar Ocampo, Sr.; Natalie Marquez, Sr.; Miriam Alvarado, So.
Outlook: Last season, the Wildcats had 22 seniors on their roster. Needless to say, there are no returning varsity players this year. New coach Jessica Portney is in full-blown rebuilding mode. Technique drills and practice on ball placement dominate the practices.
Quote: "We are stressing consistency and fundamentals. There is a lot of enthusiasm on the courts.” !~ Portney
Players to watch: Emily Pearson, Sr.; Samantha Couch, Jr.; Rebecca Postema, Jr.
Outlook: The Governors finished 10-8 last year and won their fourth straight GLAC crown. Coach Deb Luken has 15 girls out daily, which is a little bit down from previous seasons. Pearson and Couch will be counted on to provide leadership and consistency.
Quote: "We have great attitude out on the court. We lost a few key players but have the talent to make up for it.” !~ Luken
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Players to watch: Jocelyn Jayjack, Sr.; Grace Cooper, Jr.; Kathleen Sievert, Jr.
Outlook: Carol Metzcus, who spent 20+ years at Morgan Park Academy, takes over the 59ers girls program. She inherits a team that lost three starting seniors but returns three starters ready to move up and produce. With 24 girls out on a daily basis the competition for the final spots is tough, but Metzcus believes the team will be better prepared for a tough conference schedule.
Quote: "We are a deep team, and I think that will help us play better as the year progresses." !~ Metzcus
Players to watch: Alyssa Carter, Sr.; Michelle Urena, Jr.
Outlook: The Panthers finished last year at 7-10, a small improvement over the year before. With 20 girls but few returning varsity players, Coach Tracy Sines is focused on teaching how to finish out matches. She has seen significant improvement in early practices, and hopes that work transfers over to the regular season.
Quote: "We do not have a set lineup yet. We will do some mixing and matching in the early part of the season to figure how who is the best fit at different positions." !~ Sines
Players to watch: Meredith Garcia, Sr.; Nikki Goodeve, Sr.; Aby Madrigal, Jr.; Vani Madrigal Jr.
Outlook: The Trojans have won two regional titles in a row. This year they move to the Munster sectional, which will provide a tough road to a three-peat. Coach Adam Baez is stepping down at the end of the season, and that will provide the team with motivation to send him out as a winner. The Madrigal twins may play at No. 1 Doubles and provide another opportunity for a state title.
Quote: "We lost state champ Liz Quinn, but we still have a very strong core. The depth we have will allow us to move players around quite a lot and give them an opportunity to challenge themselves." !~ Baez
Player to watch: Sabrina Millsap, Sr.; Mallory Bilski, Sr.; Geena Lammertin, Jr.
Outlook: The Brickies were 10-10 last season, and won their third straight sectional title under Coach Karen Blaauw. The goals this year are to 1) add more conference wins and 2) defend the sectional crown. Several JV players will need to step up in order for the goals to become realities.
Quote: "We will have some challenges this year, but I am confident we can meet them head-on." !~ Blaauw
Players to watch: Abbey Hamstra, Sr.; Jenn Anderson, Sr.
Outlook: The Kougars finished with an 8-8 record last year behind the play of Abbey Hamstra, who made it to the state regional finals as a No. 1 singles player. New coach Kelli Hamstra is confident that this year's squad can do as well or even better. Goals include a strong showing in the tough NCC and a sectional crown for the team, and a spot in the Elite Eight for Abbey Hamstra.
Quote: "We have a great mix of experienced players and underclassmen that have the ability to be successful this season." !~ Hamstra
Players to watch: Chloe White, Sr.; Jessica Sharkey, Sr.; Kristina Stefoski, So.
Outlook: The Red Devils (13-4) played tough last year. Coach Kevin Deal has a strong team again this season anchored by White and Sharkey, who have plenty of varsity experience.
Quote: "Although we lost four valuable seniors to graduation last year, I believe this team has plenty of talent and potential throughout our lineup." !~ Deal
Players to watch: Christiann Tavitas, Sr.; Paige Heuer, Jr.; Erica Tritsch, Jr.; Jessica Rooth, So.
Outlook: The Mustangs are loaded once again, with returning starters at six of seven varsity positions. Newcomer Nikki Heiniger will be a name to remember -- only a freshman, but one of the top three players on the team, according to Coach Bill Heuer. The Mustangs have beefed up their schedule against top opponents in an effort to prepare for a postseason trip to Indy.
Quote: "We have a very tough schedule, and we will find out early how we stack up with some of Indiana's best teams. We want to be the team that is representing our area in the state finals." !~ Heuer
Players to watch: Christina Sanollo, Fr.; Danielle Poyne, Fr.; Jocelyn James. Fr.; Akeem Anderson, Fr.
Outlook: The Hornets will start four freshmen this season. They are young, inexperienced, but very athletic. Third year Coach Ashley Cherry is working with the young guns on skill drills to help prepare them for conference play. Last year the Hornets improved their overall play and, as a result, their record. The goal this year is to battle for a winning conference record and a city tournament trophy.
Quote: "We want to have a full varsity and a full JV roster to help build depth for this year and the future." !~ Cherry
Players to watch: Taylor McFadden, Jr.; Crae Johnson, So.; Leatha Dawson, So.
Outlook: The Cougars have been NWC champions 9 out of 10 years, and plan to add to that legacy. Led by three returning varsity players, third-year coach Dora Hubbard expects to add a few more wins this year. A tougher schedule should help the team improve as the season progresses.
Quote: "This is a great group of girls, who are all very coachable and eager to learn." !~ Hubbard
Players to watch: Jennifer Huerta, Sr.; Rachel Lamb, Sr.; Allison Rice, Sr., Brittney Ziemniak, Sr.
Outlook: Coach Dave Paupp has four seniors to promote leadership, but he also expects development from fellow returnees and sophomores Lauren Jakubczyk and Stephanie Montreuil.
Quote: "I am always encouraging my players to play a lot to get better and continue to expose them to better players to try to improve their game." !~ Paupp
Players to watch: Ashley Pabey, Sr.; Jackie Fernandez, Sr.; Katie Lipa, Sr.
Outlook: Led by Pabey, who made it to the regional, they expect to be successful once again this year. With so many experienced returners, a sectional championship is not an unreasonable goal.
Quote: "The entire team has taken on Pabey's work ethic and attitude. We have set two team goals -- a winning record, and a sectional championship." !~ coach Dave Lane
Players to watch: Faith Elger, Sr.; Brittany Thompson, Sr.
Outlook: The Wildcats went 9-6 last season before losing in the sectional semifinal to Lowell. Coach Greg Whitacre believes that he has a strong team that can improve on last year's record. Many of the younger players come in with some experience, so both varsity and JV should be tough.
Quote: "We have a very competitive schedule for a school of our size, but I think we can play well and win quite a few matches." !~ Whitacre
Players to watch: Grace Rodibaugh, Sr.; Tori McEwan, Jr.; Victoria Watson, Jr.
Outlook: The Bombers have a more experienced and competitive squad this season. Coach Ernest Watson has a strong core group who has athleticism as well as skills. A .500 record in a conference that includes West Lafayette and Delphi would be a good achievement.
Quote: "We need some time to develop some more chemistry and rhythm. I like our chances heading into sectional." !~ Watson
!~ Times writers Jim Hunsley and Bob Moulesong contributed to the report.