While last year consisted of breaking in many first-year players new to the sport, the Wauseon girls tennis team looks to be much improved in 2021 with a year of experience under their belt.
“I think the girls should be ready to compete with several teams in the area,” explained sixth-year head coach Kody Moden. “They have some good skills and it will be challenging both against our opponents and some internally battling for spots on the varsity team. It’s a great group of girls and I look forward to getting out and watching them do their best throughout the season.”
The Indians return a total of 11 girls — six from varsity — from the 2020 team.
Their most experienced returnee is senior Tatum Barnes, a three-year letter winner who was Wauseon’s first singles competitor a season ago. Also back are Kelsey Bowers, Brianna Hays, Emily Holcomb, Emah Starkweather, Kassidy Zientek, Mary Andrews, Ashley Roblero, Yasmin Roblero, Zorah Siefker and Valeria Villarroel.
Newcomers to the squad will be Kacy Burt, Elise Eberley, Jackie Hernandez, Emma Kesler, Lola Lavinder, Caitlyn McDonough, Phoebe Oyer and Katie Smith.
The Indians’ lone departure was second doubles player Gabbi Bowers.
Coach Moden is encouraged by the makeup of his team.
“We have girls with some good experience at the varsity level and some good athletic ability that should make for some good matches this year,” he said. “They have put in some extra time over the summer and show some good improvement. They should be competitive amongst themselves as well as the competition.”
But, he admits there still is likely to be some growing pains with a fairly young core of girls.
“They have improved a lot since coming in as freshmen with little to no experience so there is still the learning curve of playing tennis against some opponents who have played from younger ages and understand the strategy of tennis more than just hitting the ball with power,” Moden said.
Wauseon’s coach has the Bryan Golden Bears as the team to beat in the Northern Buckeye Tennis League.
“I believe most of the league matches and local teams should be competitive this year but Bryan is the favorite probably hands down to lead the league and the area as they have a great program and seem to reload year after year,” he said.
Wauseon travels to Maumee Tuesday before hosting Archbold Thursday and Oak Harbor on Friday in their first home matches of the season.