By Josh Brown
and Rob Kiser
MIAMI COUNTY — The Troy tennis team hasn’t won a division title since 2015.
With five players returning this season, the Trojans are hoping to change that.
But even with all of the experience the team has coming back, Troy coach Mark Goldner knows how difficult a climb it could be this season after the team finished third in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division last year with an 8-2 record, behind champion Butler and runner-up Greenville.
For the Trojans under Goldner, the goals going into the season never change.
“We always have the goal to win the GWOC North … and that’s going to be a tough goal this year,” he said. “We also always have the goal to get somebody to qualify for the district tournament, and we have a chance to do that.”
The Trojans will have their two returning seniors, Katie Sherrick and Hailey Taylor, at singles this season, as well as returning junior Mackenzie Nosker. Sherrick played first singles all last season and will likely do so again, while Taylor was at first doubles along with graduate Jackie Fulker. Nosker played third singles, and currently it’s a friendly competition between the two of them for the second and third spots.
Junior Kit Woelke and sophomore Cady Rhea both return, as well, and will likely team up again and move up to first doubles after playing second doubles last year.
“Right now, Katie’s definitely going to play first,” Goldner said. “It’s been a battle between Hailey and Mackenzie and Kit for second and third, and right now Hailey is probably a hair ahead of Mackenzie for two and three. Kit is probably looking at first doubles with Cady, and they played together last year.”
Freshman Esha Patel will likely play second doubles, with four other players being looked at to team up with her: sophomores Danielle Robbins, Ainsley Savard and Kylee Ayers and freshman Sarah Grosse.
“We’ve got Esha at second, and right now we’re trying to figure out which of the four is going to be playing with her,” Goldner said. “It could be a revolving door for a while until we figure it out, unless someone steps up here in the next two or three days. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Hopefully as the year goes along, we’ll get better at all of the positions,” Goldner said. “And if things aren’t going well, I’m open to some changes. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.”
Last year, the Trojans were 12-4 overall and finished third in the division — and Goldner looks at Greenville and Butler to be teams to beat once again, with the league improving from top to bottom.
“Greenville has a lot of people back and a lot of depth coming back,” Goldner said. “Tippecanoe is probably going to be really good, definitely better than last year, and Butler is going to be really good. Right now, I look at those three teams ahead of us, and hopefully we can step up to the challenge when we play those teams.
“We’ve got a couple teams on our schedule that we didn’t get to play last year because of rainouts. Fairmont is going to be good, Miamisburg is very good, we didn’t get to play Alter and they are very good, and we are going to play Chaminade Julienne, which is very good. We’re going to have our hands full.”
Tippecanoe was incredibly young last season, still managing to go 11-7 overall and 7-3 in the GWOC American North Division. This year, though, those players have a full season under their belts, and the Red Devils enter 2018 with high expectations.
Back at first and second singles for the Devils are Amelia Zweizig and Dakota Schroeder, both of whom had solid freshman seasons last year and are ready to build on that as sophomores. Freshman Mira Patel also joins the team and will look to make an impact in singles. And at doubles, seniors Claire Wint and Annie Livesay both return, with senior Camillah Jones, junior Rainey Messinger and freshman Katy Schultz adding depth to the lineup.
“One great thing about our team and our athletes is that they are intrinsically motivated,” says Tippecanoe coach Kaci Matthews as she enters her fifth season with the Devils. “They have high expectations and goals for themselves, and that only makes our team stronger and more competitive. I am very excited to see what we can accomplish as a team this season, not only in the GWOC North but in our non-league matchups, as well.”
First-year coach Jenny Fox takes over a Milton-Union tennis program that won the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division last year, and the Bulldogs have enough experience return to take aim at a title defense.
Meredith Fitch and Hannah Fugate both return at singles this season, with Fugate coming back after an All-SWBL Buckeye first team season and with Fitch as a second team honoree. Taylor Falb also joins the roster this season and will look to make an immediate impact. And at doubles, Madison Silveira returns after earning All-SWBL Buckeye honorable mention, with Emma Lehman, Hailey Lauterbur and Amelia Black all looking to contribute.
“(Our league projection is to be) SWBL champions again,” Fox said.
Tim Ungericht returns for his fourth season as girls coach after the Cavaliers finished 4-13 last year.
Graduating off that team were Alex Reed and Melissa Brunner.
Returning letterwinners are seniors Claire Larger, Grace Brandt, Sarah Gibson, Ann Pannaparra and Kiera Burns; and junior Angela Brunner.
“This team has a lot of experience,” Ungericht said. We expect to win more matches then we did last year. The girls will be led by senior Claire Larger, who is coming off a solid junior year in which she was a third team All-Area selection at first singles.
“We also expect to finish high in our invitationals and our goals are to have a winning season with district qualifiers. We have 13 girls out this fall. John Brunner returns for this third season as our assistant coach. He brings to the table a solid understanding of tennis and is great for our team chemistry as well.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.