Duneland Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Bobbi Modesto, Jr.; Margaret Shinn, So.; Sunny Lee, Jr.; J.J. Lee, Fr.
Outlook: Despite the addition of five new players to the lineup, coach Gretchen Shinn expects a lot from the Trojans this season. Modesto and Margaret Shinn will lead the way while the Lee-sister combination of will add depth to a senior class that is making the jump from junior varsity.
Quote: "We expect the new players to immediately help our team and we hope to win a lot of matches this season." -- coach Shinn
Players to watch: Kelly Gross, Sr.; Gabby Touchette, Sr.; Kelsey Ingelhart, Jr.; Mackensie Shelley, So.
Outlook: The Bulldogs (10-8) have four returnees from last year's sectional championship team. Third-year coach Brian Elston is excited that most of the team put in a lot of offseason work on the individual game. A tough DAC schedule will make the 'Dogs battle-tested by postseason.
Quote: "We graduated three important people from last year's team but we have a nice nucleus of players who will make things interesting for us this year. Hopefully by the end of the season we will be at our peak. So far the girls have had great work ethics and attitudes." -- Elston.
Players to watch: Lauren Ashenbrener, Sr.; Ashley DeSantiago, Sr.; Emma Harowski, Sr.
Outlook: Graduation took away five starters from last year's 9-8 (2-7 DAC) team. But coach Bryan Szalonek is optimistic about the talented JV players fighting for positions. One big goal of the Indians is to improve their DAC record.
Quote: "The competition for varsity spots has been very intense this spring. We will have a lot of depth from one through seven. We want to be a very competitive team." -- Szalonek.
Players to watch: Hillary Frye, Sr.; Kristen Sanders, Sr.; Alison Searle, Jr.; Morgan Sandelski, Jr.
Outlook: Former assistant coach Melissa Pfeifer takes over the program. Junior Rachel Edlen and sophomore Kayla Wurster make the move up to varsity this season, and they should provide some depth for the Slicers.
Quote: "We have high expectations for (Edlen and Wurster) this season and see them fitting into our varsity lineup. We have several returning letter winners and hope our senior returning letter winners (Frye and Sanders) will help to lead the team to a successful season." -- Pfeifer
Players to watch: Kelsey Sajdera, Sr.; Lea Neligan, Sr.; Morgan Lamb Sr.
Outlook: Last year the Pirates posted a 4-10 record as they dealt with several growing pains. Many of the girls spent the offseason playing in tournaments to improve their game. Second-year coach Kyle Prow expects to see a better team with better results, especially within the DAC.
Quote: "On paper, we're better than last year. I think we will surprise several teams this season. We've got the talent and the leadership to improve our conference and overall record." -- Prow
Players to watch: Brooke Foltz, Sr.; Lauren Palmer, Sr.; Ashleigh Ellenwood, Sr.
Outlook: Out of the seven starters last season, the Wolves lost just one to graduation and return plenty of experience including the St. Joseph's-bound Foltz.
Quote: "Our key position will be our second doubles. You never know how they are going to match up together, but we've got some depth and experience on the team." -- coach Norm Bruemmer
Players to watch: Carly Bermes, Sr.; Casey McGuire, Jr.; Lauren Zack, So.; Bailey Lauritzen, So.; Abby Clark, Jr.; Abby Hargarten, Jr.
Outlook: New coach Joe White takes over a program large on experience with an even larger number of incoming freshmen. Big things are expected of Bermes in her final year.
Quote: "With the girls we have returning, they all played in the winter. The schools that consistently win are made up of players who play throughout the year and we haven't had a huge history of that here at Portage." -- White
Players to watch: Ali Hauser, Sr.; Lauren Kammerer, Sr.; Kelly Kennedy, Fr.; Caitlin Kennedy, Fr.
Outlook: The future is now for the Vikings. While Hauser and Kammerer provide talent and experience in the senior class, Kelly and Caitlin Kennedy are freshmen who come in with high expectations. The twin sisters will be thrown into the fire immediately.
Quote: "I don't know what to quite expect yet, but this should be an interesting year. They (Kennedy sisters) are pretty much ready to go." -- coach Tim Shideler
Greater South Shore Conference
Players to watch: Malayna Zavsky, Sr.; Stacy Krahn, Sr.; Tate Hickey, Jr.
Outlook: The Warriors lost five starters to graduation. Returnees Zavsky and Hickey, along with Munster transfer Krahn, will be counted on to lead the team back to the sectional finals. Coach Steve Tapia has 18 girls on the courts daily, which bodes well for the future.
Quote: "We want to be able to compete at the top of the conference as well as the city tournament. We want to keep improving so we can be primed by the time sectional rolls around." -- Tapia
Players to watch: Angelee Schuldt, Sr.; Lyndsey DiGiacomo, Jr.; Rachel Metheny, Jr.; Tiffany Matuszczak, Jr.
Outlook: Calumet has one returning letterman and only two players with varsity experience. The good news is that the Warriors have 25 girls on the courts daily, giving coach Jerry Tauber an opportunity to build a team. The goal is to improve on last year's 4-11 record and be competitive in both conference and sectional.
Quote: "We are extremely young and inexperienced. It will take time, but as long as they hang in there, we will get better every day and we always have fun." -- Tauber
Players to watch: Amber Dwyer, Jr.; Kelsey Lemley, Jr.
Outlook: The Eagles will be led by Dwyer and Lemley as they try to unseat arch-rival River Forest, which won last year's sectional title. Several of last year's freshmen now have a year of varsity experience under their belts, which should help during the season. Coach Kristie Hite has a young but experienced team.
Players to watch: Katie Clancy, Sr.; Mary Katherine Slattery, Sr.
Outlook: Clancy and Slattery moved from doubles to singles in the middle of last season and along with Shinn, provide the Blazers with a strong singles group. If coach Raymond Silvas can get the right doubles teams in place, Marquette could be a force this season.
Quote: "I think the season will go really well. We have a good mixture of seniors with some up-and-coming freshmen and sophomores. We have more depth that we've probably ever had." -- Silvas
Players to watch: Jamie Bellar, Sr.; Dianna Haynes, Sr.; Vivian Nunez, Sr.
Outlook: The Ingots won a sectional title last year under new coach Cynthia Gil. The team returns three seniors with varsity experience, and will try to mix in JV promotions to find the right balance. Defending the sectional crown and competing for the GSSC title are the goals for the year.
Quote: "Overall, we are young team with a mix of experience and new girls. We will count on our three seniors for leadership, and work towards steady improvement. We hope to be pretty good by years' end." -- Gil
Players to watch: Stephanie Guernsey, Sr.; Maggie Krause, Sr.; Kaelyn Loftus, Sr.; Ashley Immordino, Sr.; Julie Ryan, Sr.; Olivia Ingram, Jr.
Outlook: With five senior starters returning to the lineup, the Bearcats should be a formidable foe for opposing teams.
Quote: "This is probably the most-balanced girls team that I have ever had. We are strong all the way through and don't have a weak spot anywhere. We are now at the point where we can get past working on simple things and teach them more strategy and trying to do different things." -- coach Mike Rosta
Players to watch: Megan Jakovich, Sr.; Megan Kazmierski, Sr.; Guadalupe Cornejo, Sr.
Outlook: Last year the Oilers finished with an 8-7 record and a sectional championship. Arthur Young returns to coach the girls after a two-year absence. Much of last year's team returns, and the Oilers hope to make it three sectional titles in a row.
Quote: "The outlook for this season looks very promising. 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, Jr.; Stephanie Perez, Jr.; Stephanie Richards, So.
Outlook: The Pioneers lost three starters to graduation from last year's team. Coach Roni Dupey has 26 girls competing for varsity spots this year, and expects a few younger players to step up. A move to the Lake Station Sectional should help postseason aspirations.
Quote: "We have been showing improvement every year, and we are all working together on our team goals. We believe we can do very well in conference and the city tournament. It should be a good season" -- Dupey
Players to watch: Corinne Arroyo, Sr.; Krystin Warden, Sr.
Outlook: The Gladiators have five players returning from last year with various levels of varsity experience. With 23 girls out this spring, coach Sharon Meier has many choices to fill open varsity spots. Gavit finished second in the GLAC last season, and hopes to make a run at the top spot this year.
Quote: "This group has been a joy to work with this spring. They have a great work ethic and put out a lot of effort on the court. We'll get better as the season progresses." -- Meier
Players to watch: Angelica Rodriquez, Sr.; Alejandra Martinez, Jr.
Outlook: The Wildcats have 22 -- count 'em -- seniors on their roster. Coach Nathan Foor plans to put their varsity experience on the court and in search of a double-digit win season. This group went 13-2 as freshmen, showing they know how to win.
Quote: "We have a talented and athletic group of seniors, who hopefully have saved their best for last. Our goals include winning conference, the city tourney and our sectional. We can do it if everyone works hard and contributes." -- Foor
Players to watch: Lauren Innes, Sr.; Michelle Frost, Jr.; Gabby DiFore, So.
Outlook: Last year the Governors finished 12-5 with a conference title. Then graduation took six starters, leaving coach Scott Garrison with a rebuilding project. Twelve talented JV players from last year will help make the Governors work possible.
Quote: "We have a lot of good juniors and sophomores who can step up and earn a spot on the varsity roster. We want to do well in conference and the tournament. We have a strong group, so I think both goals are doable." -- Garrison.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Players to watch: Candace Roberson, Sr.; Gigi Gonzalez, Sr.; Katie Anderson, Sr.; Jocelyn Jayjack, Jr.
Outlook: The 59ers return all but two from last year's team. The experience gained last season should reflect in additional wins this year, according to second-year coach Donn Gobbie. Seniors Roberson and Gonzalez should provide leadership for the 59ers, who do battle in a tough conference.
Quote: "All of the girls put in hard work, and are very eager to improve. We are a deep team, and I think we will have some nice results this year." -- Gobbie
Players to watch: Jessica Hermosillo, Sr.; Lindsey Sopetti, Sr.; Michelle Sopetti, Sr.
Outlook: The Panthers finished last year a disappointing 6-11. Coach Tracy Sines is focused on teaching the senior-laden team to finish out matches. She has seen significant improvement in early practices, and hopes that work transfers over to the regular season. Hermosillo is the team's anchor at No.1 singles.
Quote: "We have a good group of girls this year, and they have a lot of varsity experience. They are working hard to prove that they are not a 6-11 team this season. The underclassmen are going to be ready to step up when needed." -- Sines
Players to watch: Liz Quinn, Sr.; Meredith Garcia, Jr.; Nikki Goodeve, Jr.; Aby Madrigal, So.; Vany Madrigal So.
Outlook: The Trojans are coming off their most successful season ever. They had a 24-1 record, with their only loss coming in the state quarterfinals to Terre Haute South. They won their first-ever conference championship and finished last season ranked No. 7 in the state.
Quote: "We lost three varsity players to graduation, so we need some girls to step up and fill those spots. We have three returning players who made all-state (Quinn, both Madrigal sisters) so we still have a very solid team. If we are going to repeat last year's success, we will need the new varsity players to buy into the hard work it takes to go downstate." -- coach Adam Baez
Player to watch: Reena Childers, Sr.; Stephanie Bachman, Sr.; Jennifer Syjut.
Outlook: The Brickies were 9-9 last season, and won their second-straight sectional title under coach Karen Blaauw. The goal this year is to add more conference wins and defend the sectional crown. Childers and Bachman hope to lead the Brickies to new heights.
Quote: "Senior captains Bachmann and Childers have stepped up to the plate demonstrating excellent leadership during preseason conditioning, not missing one opportunity to prepare for the season. I trust that their hard work and the team's efforts during preseason will pay off for them." -- Blaauw
Players to watch: Kayla Fieldhouse, Sr.; Abbie Wilder, Sr.; Abbey Hamstra, Jr.; Jenn Anderson, Jr.
Outlook: The Kougars finished with an 8-8 record last year behind the play of Hamstra, who made it to the state regional as a No. 1 singles player. New coach Don Guerrettaz 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.
Quote: "We have been working on a strong team chemistry this spring. I feel good about the attitude and the effort being put out on a daily basis. Our seniors are showing good leadership." -- Guerrettaz
Players to watch: Natalie Johnson, Sr.; Mallory Swisher, Sr.; Amber DeYoung, Sr.; Chloe White, Jr.
Outlook: The Red Devils played tough last year, finishing with a 10-9 record. In conference, they only lost to Highland and Munster, both state-ranked teams. Coach Kevin Deal has a team anchored by four seniors with plenty of varsity experience.
Quote: "Although we lost two valuable seniors to graduation last year, I believe this team has more talent and potential throughout our lineup. I expect us to be competitive in all matches and turn some of our close losses from last year into wins." -- Deal
Players to watch: Jessica Rooth, Fr.; Paige Heuer, So.; Christiann Tavitas, Jr.
Outlook: Munster lost five varsity starters to graduation, and will have one senior in the starting lineup. But that doesn't mean the Mustangs aren't loaded. Freshman Rooth steps into the No. 1 singles slot, and sophomore Heuer takes over at No. 2 singles. The young, but talented duo, will be expected to carry the sectional champions back to the postseason spotlight.
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." -- Coach Bill Heuer
Outlook: The Hornets are led by second-year coach Ashley Cherry. Last year they improved their overall play and, as a result, their record. The goal this year is to battle for a winning conference record. That may be a lofty goal, as both Roosevelt and West Side look to be strong opponents.
Outlook: Carole Williams, boys coach for many years, takes over the girls this season. Several returning players from last year's team should help make Williams' first year a good one. Battling for the conference championship and winning the city tourney are the top goals for the Panthers.
Players to watch: Litney Gray, Sr.; Crae Johnson, Fr.; Erin Hightower, Jr.
Outlook: The Cougars have been NWC champions eight of the past nine seasons, and expect to repeat again this year. Led by second-year coach Dora Hubbard, who came over from Wirt, the Cougars expect to add a few more wins this year.
Quote: "This is a great group of girls, who are all very coachable and eager to learn. We want to repeat as conference and city champions." -- Hubbard
Player to watch: Allison Trevino, Sr.
Outlook: Like much of Boone Grove's athletic programs this season, coach Dave Paupp is faced with rebuilding after losing a strong senior class. Trevino is one of the few returnees for the Wolves.
Quote: "I have a lot of freshmen that came out. We're trying to develop the program. If kids want to be good at a sport, they have to devote a lot of time. To be competitive, you have to be out there." -- Paupp
Players to watch: Ashley Pabey, Jr.; Cynthia Nunez, Sr.
Outlook: Pabey worked hard on her game last year and earned a No. 1 singles spot in the regional. She will lead a Cardinals' team that has four returning lettermen from the 10-6 squad a year ago. Nunez was undefeated on JV last year. Central will host the sectional with rivals Noll, Whiting and Hammond, and has made it a goal to keep the hardware at home.
Quote: "We have set two team goals -- a winning record, and a sectional championship. Both are obtainable." -- coach Dave Lane
Players to watch: Kim Reppa, Sr.; Faith Elger, Jr.; Brittany Thompson, Jr.
Outlook: The Wildcats went 9-6 last season before losing in the sectional semifinal to Lowell. Five starters return, and coach Greg Whitacre thinks 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: "This is an experienced and athletic group. 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: Katie Phillips, Sr.
Outlook: The Bombers have a relatively young squad this season. Coach Ernest Watson has a group of underclassmen who have athleticism but lack experience. A .500 record in a conference that includes West Lafayette and Delphi would be a good achievement.
Quote: "I think we will improve as the year progresses. We need some time to develop chemistry and rhythm. I like our chances heading into sectional." -- Watson.
!~ Times writers Jim Hunsley, Paul Oren and Bob Moulesong contributed to the report.