Duneland Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Margaret Shinn, Sr.; Rachel McCrum, Sr.; J.J. Lee, Jr.; Meg Modesto, So.
Outlook: The Trojans were regional finalists a year ago. Shinn and Modesto are two of the better players in the area, so Chesterton will again be a postseason threat.
Players to watch: Amber Hawarth, Sr.; Abby Kvachkoff, Jr.; Maddie Cleland, Jr.; Olivia Elston, So.
Outlook: The Bulldogs have four returnees from last year's sectional championship team. Fifth-year coach Brian Elston is excited by the fact that most of the team put in a lot of offseason work on their game.
Players to watch: Kate Toth, Sr.; Vanessa Olson, Sr.; Nicole Stanek, Sr..
Outlook: The Indians finished 10-8 last year and have five seniors on this year’s squad. The Indians will be very strong at doubles.
Players to watch: Cari Hughest, Sr.; Kayla Wurster, Sr.; Lauren Sterling, Jr.; Caroline Boger, So.
Outlook: Nicholas Garstka is now the coach of both Slicer programs. Freshmen Madison Shreves and Jill Boger could help fill the void of graduation losses.
Player to watch: Miranda Vega, Sr.
Outlook: Last year the Pirates posted a 3-12 record as they dealt with growing pains. Boys coach James Simon takes over the helm as girls coach, hoping to bring a spark to the Pirates.
Players to watch: Kaila Gieser, Sr.; Claire Hirsch, Jr.; Megan Methner, So.; Kristen Palmer, So.; Dayna Pedzinski, So.
Outlook: Graduation losses took the Wolves' No. 1 and No. 3 singles players plus all-stater Ashleigh Ellenwood at No. 1 doubles. This youthful squad is working to gain experience.
Players to watch: Bailey Lauritzen, Sr.; Kaley Liang, Sr.; Lauren Zack, Sr.; Mandy Haupt, Jr.
Outlook: Former assistant Joe Reid takes over as head coach. Four starters return to the lineup.
Players to watch: Kelly Kennedy, Jr.; Caitlin Kennedy, Jr.
Outlook: Only one starter was lost to graduation. Talented freshmen Rachel Crookston and Madisen Kammerer have been added to the mix. Valpo will be highly competitive in both the DAC and postseason.
Greater South Shore Conference
Players to watch: Andrea Lopez, Sr.; Alejandra Almandez, Sr.; Asia Austin, Sr.; Selina Baez, Sr.
Outlook: The Warriors have a new coach in Katy Riddell. She inherits a solid nucleus led by Lopez and Almandez. Noll came up short in the sectionals against Whiting and hopes to reverse that this season. Riddell has a couple of underclassmen that she said can contribute this season.
Players to watch: Destiny Fleming, Sr.; Naomi Westlake, Jr.; Tania Flores, Jr.
Outlook: The Warriors have three returning players with varsity experience. Second-year coach Crystal Ham has been busy trying to fill in varsity spots.
Players to watch: Joann Dwyer, Jr.; Toni Wenger, So.; Desiree Parrillo, So.
Outlook: The Eagles have no seniors on the team this year. They will be led by Dwyer. Coach Kristie Hite-Balboa has set a goal of being competitive and consistent.
Players to watch: Abbigail Schmidt, So.; Kendall Shinn, Sr.; Allison Westbrook, Sr., Taylor Bowen, Jr.; Grace Connelly, Sr.,
Outlook: The Blazers return seven varsity players from last year's squad which won the GSSC regular-season title. Coach Jay Adams said his team will also be competitive in the postseason.
Players to watch: Gaby Gonzalez, Sr.; Milagro Miranda Sr.; Leslie Esquivel Jr.; Zyra Garcia So.
Outlook: Second-year coach Beau Bruemmer said the Ingots will be more competitive this season based on returning talent. Numbers are up for River Forest, with 25 girls on the team. There will be a lot of mixing and matching early in the year.
Players to watch: Sofia Esuivel, Sr.; Lauren Johnson, Sr.; Shelby Loftus, Sr.; Karlee Guererro, Jr.
Outlook: E.C. Central transfer Celeste Garcia joins the lineup for the Bearcats, who have four returning varsity players.
Players to watch: Grace Huss, Jr.; Brianna Baez, Fr.; Lauren Markovich, Sr.
Outlook: Last year the Oilers had a magical season, winning 15 matches and making it to the regional finals. They lost two key players in Jazmyne Henderson and Danielle Weems, but return Huss and Markovich. They are also joined by Baez, daughter of former Highland coach Adam Baez, who will be Whiting’s assistant coach this year. Look for another successful season.
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Player to watch: Stephanie Richards, Sr.
Outlook: Richards is the only returning varsity players from last year’s squad. Coach Roni Dupey has 33 girls on the team, but only a few have much tennis experience. A move to the Lake Station Sectional should help postseason aspirations.
Players to watch: Monique Michaels, Sr; Alondra Macias, Sr.; Annika Wirsching, Jr.
Outlook: The Gladiators have three returning varsity players from last year’s squad. Second-year coach Meg Doughman has several girls who play multiple sports, and their athleticism will help make for a better team.
Players to watch: Cinthya Rodriguez, Jr.; Mayra Meza, Sr.
Outlook: After losing 22 players to graduation, the Wildcats have several returning players this year. Second-year coach Jessica Portney is optimistic that the hard work put in during the offseason will translate into more wins. Several matches against smaller schools should provide an opportunity for the 'Cats to notch a few victories while improving their play.
Players to watch: Samantha Couch, Sr.; Angie Martinez, Jr.; Karla Gallegos, So.
Outlook: The Governors have seven returning varsity players from last year’s team that won a fifth consecutive GLAC crown. Coach Deb Luken has 22 girls out daily, which is a big jump from last season. The Govs are dominated by a large group of juniors, so the outlook is good not only this year but next as well. The Govs also won the city tournament and intend to keep the title this year.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Players to watch: Grace Cooper, Sr.; Kathleen Sievert, Sr.; Emma Farkas, Sr.; Sarah Muha, Sr.
Outlook: Several talented underclassmen join a solid core of seniors to provide plenty of optimism for the season. With 23 girls on the team, the competition for the final spots is tough, but second-year coach Carol Metzcus said the team will be better prepared for the NCC schedule.
Players to watch: Michelle Urena, Sr.; Ali Acevedo, Sr.; Stacy Weber, Sr.; Kaitlyn Meyer, Jr.
Outlook: The Panthers finished 5-13 last year, a step back from the previous season. A four-game winning streak at the end of the year provided optimism for this year. New coach Mark Harnew inherits four returning varsity players.
Players to watch: Aby Madrigal, Sr.; Vani Madrigal Sr.; Eleni Sakatos, Sr.; Holly Santaguida, So.
Outlook: Jordan Heckard takes over at Highland. He inherits the state doubles champions, Aby and Vany Madrigal. Five players return from last year’s sectional roster, so the Trojans are in good shape to challenge for conference and sectional titles. They will need a couple of players to step up from the junior varsity to provide depth.
Player to watch: Geena Lammertin, Sr.; Mikaalya Small, Sr.; Breanna Childers, Jr.
Outlook: Seven players return with varsity experience, providing a strong nucleus. Hobart finished with a .500 record and then won the sectional it hosted. New coach Carl Davis' goals this year are to add more conference wins and defend the sectional title.
Players to watch: Kaylyn Banaszak, Sr.; Hayley Hoffman, Jr.; Paige Sanders, So..
Outlook: Abbey Hamstra has graduated and taken her acclaimed game to Carnegie Mellon. New coach Katee Sanderson has the unenviable task of replacing Hamstra while trying to keep the Kougars a .500 team. Sophomore Paige Sanders will step into the No. 1 singles role. Sanders has USTA experience, so that will help. So will the fact that 30 girls are out for the team.
Players to watch: Sarah Edwards, Sr.; Kristina Stefoski, Jr.
Outlook: The Red Devils lost five players to graduation, and coach Kevin Deal is using the dreaded “R” word. Fortunately, the Red Devils' JV team was strong last season, and a good crop of incoming freshmen will help supplement the team. Still, it will be a season of growing pains.
Players to watch: Paige Heuer, Sr.; Nikki Heiniger, So.; Jessica Rooth, Jr.; Erica Tritsch, Sr.; Marianna Rogers, Sr.
Outlook: The Mustangs are loaded again, with returning starters at six of seven positions. There are two to three JV players from last year who are challenging for the open spots. They have impressed coach Bill Heuer early on. Heuer plans to mix and match players during the season in an attempt to hit the right combination for a trip to Indy – a distinct possibility.
Players to watch: Christina Sanollo, So.; Danielle Poyne, So.; Jocelyn James. So.; Akeem Anderson, So.
Outlook: It is undecided at this time if the Hornets will field a team. Four freshmen came out and played last season, but the team didn't participate in sectional due to a lack of the minimum number of matches. Whether or not the four sophomores get a chance this season remains to be seen.
Players to watch: Taylor McFadden, Sr.; Crae Johnson, Jr.; Leatha Dawson, Jr.
Outlook: The Cougars are the only Northwestern Conference school that will definitely have a tennis team this season. Fourth-year Dora Hubbard has three returning varsity players at the top spots who provide talent and athleticism. Hubbard has worked on a schedule that includes several Hammond teams, E.C. Central and a few other small schools.
Players to watch: Stephanie Montreiul, Jr.; Lucia Baria, So.
Outlook: Baria is an exchange student from Spain, and she's played the game for five years. Coach Dave Paupp doesn't have a senior on his roster, but he's pleased with the development of his squad.
Players to watch: Ashly Rodriguez, Sr.; Fabiola Guillen, Jr.
Outlook: The Cardinals went 11-7 last season, losing in the sectionals to Bishop Noll. Six players graduated, so coach Dave Lane will have his hands full building a roster. On the positive side, the JV was 13-3 last year, so there is talent on the court.
Players to watch: Danielle Schwalm, Sr.; Alex Plaresa, Sr.; Ivana Micic, Fr.
Outlook: The Wildcats saw five varsity players graduate. Seniors Schwalm and Plaresa will be asked to provide solid play and leadership to a team that will be made up of last year’s JV squad. Micic brings talent and athleticism from the underclassmen.
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.
!~ Compiled by Times writers Jim Hunsley and Bob Moulesong