PREP GIRLS TENNIS: NorthWood wins third-straight sectional (copy)

Then-NorthWood sophomore Kate Stillson plays a ball at the net during a match in this May 18, 2019 file photo.

For all athletes in the area competing in spring sports, there are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to how area competition will go after not going head-to-head against your rival schools for almost two years.

Girls tennis this season will be no exception for both Northridge and Goshen.

Northridge coach Austin Christner is facing even more unknowns as he takes over the girls tennis program for the first time in 2021.

Christner coached at Westview prior to this upcoming season and was named the head man at Northridge earlier this year. In what was already a challenging offseason due to the pandemic, Christner has had to get to know his team at a rapid pace as matches draw closer.

“I haven’t really had a chance in the offseason to work with a lot of Northridge girls,” Christner said. “I have seen a couple of them, but overall I didn’t know a lot of them. There was a lot of work done before I got here, so I’ve been just trying to pick up all the pieces from that. It’s definitely been a challenge, but we’re excited for this year.”

Goshen senior Lucy Kramer has done her best to stay as match ready as she can during the offseason, but she admits that actually going out and competing is a lot different than just feeling good in practice.

“When I go out and hit, I feel really confident and challenge matches have went well, but it’s been so long since I’ve competed in that region that I’m a little unsure how it’ll go,” she said. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen other players at that level, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. … My goal is to just improve on every single match and improve my record from sophomore year. As long as I’m okay with the way I’m hitting I’ll be fine. I just have to mentally stay in the game.”

Along with the growing pains of getting used to competition again, both Northridge and Goshen showcase a lot of fresh faces on each roster with limited varsity experience that’ll need to be accumulated quickly for the Raiders and RedHawks to have extended success.

“I’ve only seen or heard of two or three of the girls out of over 20 girls on the team, so it’s definitely been a learning process,” Christner said. "But I think it was good for me to just have a fresh perspective. I didn’t know who was in the lineup two years ago, I didn’t know who was supposed to be varsity and who was supposed to be JV. I’ve just come in with a fresh lens and gotten to see with an unbiased eye who deserves the spots. It’s tough, but at the same time, I think that can really be advantage too.”

“As a team, we have a ton of new girls,” Kramer said. “So much of our team hasn’t played before because even the sophomores missed their freshman season. So I really hope they can have the same thing to be mentally into every game and playing like they know they should. It’ll be important for them just to experience a tennis season.”


BETHANY CHRISTIAN BRUINS

Head coach: Matt Miller, first year as girls coach (boys coach for 18 years)

Assistant coach: Katelyn Hochstetler

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Seniors: Naomi Klassen, Trami Nguyen; Juniors: Reyna King

Other varsity players: Seniors: Jackie Barber, Risa Bohn; Freshmen: Alysson Barkman, Alina Bergstresser, Jessica Ortiz Perez, Joryn Yoder

What are you most grateful for this season? “As it is my first season coaching the women's team, I'm really grateful to have an experienced group of seniors and a junior who have played varsity tennis before. I'm also grateful for the attitudes of the team, as we are all eager to have a great experience after a lost season,” coach Miller said.

CONCORD MINUTEMEN

Head coach: Todd Denton, first year (13 years as boys coach, 176-65 overall)

Assistant coaches: Lynn Schrock, Andre Ziebold, Jim Burkert, Heather Denton, Evan Atkinson

Varsity roster: Seniors: Rylee Brenneman, Madi Copsey; Juniors: Claire Steele, Kate Steele, Gracie Westlake; Sophomores: Maggie Burkert; Freshmen: Dani Aplin, Addi May

What are you most grateful for this season? “This season is special because these girls worked hard last year to not have anything to show for it. It’s going to be a fun year because we get to play. I personally have been waiting a very long time for the opportunity to coach the girls. Can’t wait to see them grow and improve,” coach Denton said.

FAIRFIELD FALCONS

Head coach: Mike Filbrun, 23rd year (298-90 overall)

Assistant coach: Landyn Nunemaker

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Junior Faith Bontrager

Varsity roster: Seniors: Megan Hochstetler, Paige Simmons, Chloe Yoder, Krystal Yoder; Juniors: Kate McGuire, Iris Miller; Sophomores: Ella Branneman, Abby Gall, Elyse Yoder; Freshmen: Addison Mast

Other team members: Juniors: Whitney Bautista, Nikki Brito, Christena Gingerich, Sidney Miller; Sophomores: Malley Behles; Freshmen: Annelise Green, Paige Lantz, Amanda McGuire

What are you most grateful for this season? “I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with this group of girls. They have terrific attitudes and show a lot of promise,” coach Filbrun said.

GOSHEN REDHAWKS

Head coach: Daniel Love, ninth season.

Assistant coaches: Johnny Tan, Lara Perry

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Kathryn Detweiler, Lucy Kramer

Other varsity players: Senior Joya Drenth; Junior Abril Diaz; rest are TBD.

What are you most grateful for this season? “This spring, I am most grateful for a chance to interact with the girls again,” coach Love said.

LAKELAND LAKERS

Head coach: Michael Rasbaugh, first year

Assistant coach: Craig Peirce

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Senior Elizabeth Jennings

Other varsity players: Seniors: Alaina Trost, Laura Eicher; Juniors: Brooklynn Olinger, Lilly Schackow; Sophomores: Amelia Trump; Freshmen: Jeyda Brim, Reagan Johnson, Megan Newsome, Morgan Newsome, Lily Pettit; Freshmen: Olivia Guldin, Lydia Trost

What are you most grateful for this season? “The one thing that I am grateful for is that we get to play. Last year was hard to see the seniors lose their season,” coach Rasbaugh said.

NORTHRIDGE RAIDERS

Head Coach: Austin Christner, first year

Assistant coach: Judy Pollock

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Seniors: Brynne Gayler, Riley Wheatley, Taylin Cress, Peyton Kieper

Other varsity players: Seniors: Brenna Janowski, Maia Schmucker; Juniors: Morgan Mack, Ava Yoder; Sophomores: Lilliah Dean; Freshmen: Saige Wheatley

What are you most grateful for this season? “I'm grateful that the girls get the opportunity to develop into a better tennis player, teammate, and person. As coaches we love to see kids get to reap the benefit of their hard work. Last spring season seeing seniors that worked so hard not be able to reap the benefit was hard to see. My hope and prayer is this year will be different, and we will see our kids reap the benefits of hard work,” coach Christner said.

NORTHWOOD PANTHERS

Head coach: Tif Schwartz, 20th season (2002, 2003 JV coach; 2004-present varsity coach) Overall Record: 148-107

Assistant coach: Tori Schwartz

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Seniors: Paige Henschen, Kate Stillson

Other varsity players: Seniors: Maya Engbrecht, Ashlyn Fuller, Alisha Frey, Kendall Maes, Samantha Markham, Abigail Richner; Juniors: Kerri Easton, Kira Gongwer, Cate Mathews, Abigail Polhemus, Iolana Reedy, Bella Sechrist, Naomi Uhlmann, Julia Wangard, Dao Xayyavongsa; Sophomores: Amy Adams, Emilee Conrad, Ismerai Guillen, Garcelyn Harner, Sidney Martin, Gabriella Umbower; Freshmen: Maddy Birk, Kaydence Dumka, Shaylee Hoover, Jenna Householter, Britton Jesse, Callie Johnson, Macie Knepp, Emma Norris, Emery Porter, Sage Risser

What are you most grateful for this season? “It has been so good to be back on the courts with these girls. We are so excited to be playing as a team and getting to compete. Now we just need the weather to cooperate so we can be outside,” coach Schwartz said.

WEST NOBLE CHARGERS

Head coach: Teri Kruger, first year

Assistant coach: Brenda Parr

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Junior: Tara Gross

What are you most grateful for this season? “In general, we are excited the girls have the opportunity to have a season since last year was canceled. And with only one returning player, we are expecting a fun year filled with expectations to see lots of growth and improvement in our team and girls,” coach Kruger said.

WESTVIEW WARRIORS

Head coach: Carrie Clark, first year

Assistant coaches: Emily Hougland, Megan Christner

Returning letterwinners from 2019: Senior Nicole Miller, Junior Lillian Eash

Other varsity players: Senior Hallie Mast; Sophomores: Paige Riegsecker, Ella Clark; freshmen: Madeline Stults

Varsity hopefuls: Senior Rochelle Miller, Junior Kailyn Gates, Sophomores Ava Brown and Kamryn Miller

What are you most grateful for this season? “Our varsity girls have worked hard in the offseason and they’re excited for a chance to compete. Some of them have been in lessons for two years now without a chance to see how their skills play out in head-to-head competitions with area schools. We’re a young team, but we’re excited to see what we can accomplish over the next few years, and especially excited to back to playing matches and representing Westview on the court,” coach Clark said.

Note: Wawasee failed to turn in team information.

Evan Lepak can be reached at evan.lepak@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240326. Follow him on Twitter @EvanMPLepak.

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