Ready to hit the court: Area girls tennis teams prepared for fall season

MIAMI COUNTY — Troy girls tennis coach Mark Goldner has something of a unique perspective on the upcoming fall season.

After all, he was to have celebrated his 50th season as the boys coach in the spring when it was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“At least we’ve had two month of practice. I’ve gotten to know these girls and see where they stand,” Goldner said. “With the boys, we only had four days and boom, that was it. We never really got to see where they would’ve ended up. It would have been interesting.”

But with tennis being one of the low/non-contact sports that are allowed to compete by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, Goldner is getting his girls team ready to compete in another strange season — one that will see them only face off against Miami Valley League opponents. Regardless, though, the team has been putting in the work leading up to the season’s start.

“With the girls, we kind of knew where they are, but then after today … we thought we had it figured out and then all the ones I had up there all got beat in challenges, so I’m back to square one,” Goldner said. “But it will all work out. We’ve got kids that play really well one day and then go down the next. Hopefully in the next couple days, we start getting some consistency out of some girls.”

Troy has a host of returners back from last year’s team. Senior Danielle Robbins had a solid year at first singles, and then the first doubles team of senior Cady Rhea and junior Esha Patel, as well as the all-senior second doubles team of Maggie Wannemacher and Kylie Ayers, are also back. Sophomore Josie Romick also saw varsity time last year, and sophomore Katie Bertke has experience on JV and is battling for a varsity spot.

“Danielle played third singles last year, and our first doubles team is back with Cady and Esha,” Goldner said. “They look like they’re pretty solid at first doubles, and I’ve got a second doubles team back with Maggie and Kylie. Plus got into about half of our matches last year and is in the running for singles this year, and Katie — who was JV last year — has done pretty well in some challenges so far.”

The Trojans also have a host of others competing for spots and playing time, including Madailein Logan, junior Taima Rajab and freshmen Elizabeth Niemi, Casey Rogers and Gwendolyn Trumbull.

“We’ve got 17 girls out this year, which is good. So we’ve got some decisions to make,” Goldner said. “And give them all credit — they’ve been coming to work all summer. We started the first week in June two days, sometimes three, a week, and overall, we’ve had between 10 and 15 girls all summer. That’s been a real positive. Hopefully they’ve learned a lot.”

Last week, the MVL announced that it would play a league-only schedule in all sports, following a similar announcement by the Greater Western Ohio Conference earlier in the week.

“Tipp City is by far the strongest team in the league,” Goldner said. “They won it last year, and they’ve got everybody back. Greenville lost some people from last year, Butler should be good but lost some people. But Tipp is far and away the best team in the league.

“Were kind of disappointed that we won’t get to play some teams we’ve always had good relationships with, like Fairmont and Springfield and some of the other GWOC teams we always play. But that’s the way it goes.”

In the end, the Trojans will be happy to get on the court.

“It’ll all work out,” Goldner said. “We’re going to play a lot of people this year. We just hope we can get through the season and get to play all 18 of our matches.”

• Tippecanoe

The Red Devils went undefeated in league play last year, claiming the first Miami Valley League Miami Division championship.

And with all the firepower it has returning, Tippecanoe looks like the team to beat again this season.

“Our goal this year is to defend our league title and improve every single match,” said Tippecanoe coach Kaci Matthews, entering her seventh year with the team. “Our girls have worked hard all year to improve their level of play and to defend our MVL championship. The girls know that no match is given to them but must be earned through hard work, focus, teamwork and determination.”

Back for her senior year at first singles is Dakota Schroeder, with junior Mira Patel returning at second singles. And at first doubles, senior Amelia Zweizig and sophomore Eliza Zweizig return, as well. As for the remaining varsity spots, Matthews said that competition would be fierce and competitive.

“They know they have to focus and compete each and every match to accomplish their individual and team goals. I am lucky to coach a team of competitors who want to do well on and off the court,” Matthews said. “That is what makes coaching these girls so fun.”

• Piqua

After posting its first winning season in more than 14 years last year with an 11-6 record, the Piqua girls tennis team is looking to build on that performance this season.

Back for the Indians at singles are Arabella Partee and Izzy King, while Cassie Arnett and Paige Stumpff both return at doubles this year.

“Our primary goal is to be a team of class and grace on and off the court,” first-year Piqua coach Melissa Rhoades said. “Secondly, we would like to do as well as last year’s record.”

• Milton-Union

Milton-Union climbed back to the top of the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division last year, and with an experienced lineup once again, the Bulldogs are looking to repeat as champs in their final year in the league.

Taylor Falb returns at singles, with newcomer Shannon Brumbaugh joining the mix and third singles still up in the air. At doubles, Paige Barnes, Amelia Black and Madison Silveira all return, with the final spot still to be decided.

“We want to win league and have a player or two make it through districts,” said third-year Milton-Union coach Jenny Fox. “After being league champions last year, we will have several teams coming after us to try and take the league. I believe Preble Shawnee and Waynesville will be the ones to challenge us in league play. We are ready to win it again for our last year being in the SWBL.”

• Lehman

Lehman brings back an experienced team this season, and without a league to compete in the Cavaliers have beefed up their schedule to prepare themselves for a shot at a good run in the postseason.

“Our numbers are good, as we will have 17 girls on the team this fall,” said Lehman coach Tim Ungericht, entering his sixth year with the team. “We don’t compete in a league, and our schedule is very tough as we play the top teams in the Western Buckeye League and the Division II Dayton area.

“Our goals for this season are for our girls to improve, win more matches than last year and make a good showing at sectionals.”

Senior Liann Trahey and juniors Annie Stiver and Mary Lins will fill out the Cavs’ singles spots, with juniors Taylor Reineke and Macie Verdier playing doubles, as well as five girls vying for the final two varsity spots.