April 10, 2013

GIRLS TENNIS PREVIEW: Logan returns top 3 singles players

Cass has strong No. 1 doubles squad, reloads at other spots.

by Beau Wicker

— Logansport’s girls tennis team improved to 2-0 on the season with a 4-1 win over visiting Twin Lakes on Tuesday.

The Berries expect to be particularly strong in singles play this season, and they swept all three spots against the Indians.

Whitney Jennings defeated Courtney Bowsman 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1, Rachel Jennings defeated Halston Lehocky 6-1, 7-5 at No. 2 and Brooke Bullard defeated Madison Hardebeck 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3.

The Berries have three newcomers for the four doubles spots, with the only returnee being Abby Geer. Geer and Kendall McGuire were defeated by Chayse Lehocky and Brittany Connell 6-4, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles. Rachel Sims and Kayleigh Dance defeated Leah Crabb and Ashley Halsen 7-5, 7-6 at No. 2 doubles for the Berries’ fourth point of the night.

The Berries went 19-2 last season and won their first-ever North Central Conference title in the sport. They repeated as sectional champions Their only two losses were to Culver Academy in the regular season and to West Lafayette in regional play.

“With the top three singles back, we look to be really strong there,” Logan coach Kelly Bullard said. “It’s definitely a rebuilding year for doubles. We lost three seniors from our doubles. It’s going to take awhile to get them going. They’re holding their own.

“The Twin Lakes No. 1 doubles made it to the regionals last year. They’ve been playing together awhile.”

Whitney Jennings went 24-2 at No. 1 singles last season and returns for her junior season. She also reached the regional round of the state singles tournament a year ago.

She is already 5-0 this season after going undefeated at the Logansport Invite last Saturday.

“Whitney looks really good. She looks even stronger than before. I’m always amazed because she doesn’t play any tennis in the offseason,” Kelly Bullard said.

The Berries finished runner-up at their invite to Marion, which won the other four spots.

“We seemed a little rusty after not getting outside much,” Kelly Bullard said. “I talked to quite a few of the teams. Marion had a chance to play indoors. LaPorte played indoors.”

Marion again looks to be a top contender in the NCC. Kelly Bullard said the matches at No. 2 and 3 singles last Saturday were very close.

Cass again looks to be the top threat in sectional play. The Kings finished third at the Logan Invite.

Cass 3, Eastern 2

The Kings won their dual meet and Mid-Indiana Conference opener in Walton.

For the Kings, Gabi Hartley won 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 singles, Kirsten Dollar and Katie Leach won 6-3, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles and Kirsten Carbaugh and Khyla Wilson won 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.

Alma Reinhart lost 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, and Ivette Prado lost 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 at No. 3 singles in what was nearly a three-hour match.

“Considering the conditions, I believe both teams played very well,” Cass coach Stu Engle said. “The girls’ team victory started the conference schedule well, but there is a long way to go.”

The No. 1 doubles duo of Leach and Dollar are the only two varsity returners from last year’s Kings squad that went 15-4 and won the MIC title, though the Kings’ JV did go undefeated last season.

The Kings have won four of the last five MIC crowns.

“Our No. 1 goal is to compete well with the schools in our conference,” Engle said. “Our hope is to be a competitive team in the sectional. Last year we lost to a really good Logansport team that also won its conference, 3-2, in the final.

“Obviously, we have a lot of question marks going into this season. Replacing five varsity players is a huge task. The competition for the top spots should help the girls improve throughout the season.

“With our inexperience we might have a rough start but the girls have demonstrated a strong work ethic. With this kind of attitude, I am sure they will be playing their best at the end of the season.”