15 August 2012

Girls Tennis: Youth Movement

Senior ShyAnne Sprzem should land a spot in the Tiger doubles lineup (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Although last year's team won but two dual meets and graduated six of its top eight players, veteran coach Jack Olwell is hoping an infusion of youth will help guide the Tigers to an improved 2012 season.

"We have some excellent ball strikers and will be very athletic in both singles and doubles," Olwell said. "We have the strongest group of incoming players we have had in many years with several eighth and ninth graders who might crack the starting lineup."

Olwell expects seniors Eilzabeth Adams, Rachel Rees, Natasha Sinha and ShyAnee Spurzem to be fixtures in the doubles lineup with last year's Player of the Year Megan Stivers the heir-apparent to the No. 1 singles position.

Freshmen Callie Olmscheid and Molly Rudorfer, both from familiar tennis families, also seem likely to fill two of the three other singles positions

Olwell added seniors Sydney Guenther and Heather Lelzenberg, juniors Savannah LaKose and Emily Lathrop and a large group of returning sophomores should also be in the hunt for varsity playing time this fall.

"All of our players will have moved up at least two places in the lineup and consequently will have to adjust to the higher level of competition," he said. "We will also have a number of players who will be playing varsity tennis for the first time. They will be thrown into the fire right from the start."

Olwell said the always-tough Missota Conference will provide stiff competition with Red Wing, Northfield, Holy Angels and Chanhassen all expected to return strong teams. State power Rochester Mayo should again be the team to beat in Section 1AAA.

"We are looking to improve our victory total and get out of the conference basement," Olwell said. "It's also our goal to get a higher seed in the section so we don't draw the Rochester teams in the first round like we have in previous years."

Joe "Doc" Emond returns as varsity assistant coach with Brian Engebretson working with the middle school program.

The girls kick off the 2012-13 sports year Monday, Aug. 19, with their annual trip to the Mound Doubles Invitational.