After finishing in the top 12 in doubles in the girls tennis state finals last season, the goal for Crystal Lake Central’s Jillian Wallace and Evelyn Youel is clear.
The path to get there is not so much.
Youel and Wallace, now seniors, have been doubles partners since their freshman season but might see some singles action this year. Tigers coach Katie Lashbrook said she thinks singles could help their doubles game and possibly the team. But she said moving her top two players to singles doesn’t automatically get the team an extra win.
“Obviously, they’re really good in doubles, (but) whenever you have to move up a spot, do you suffer moving everyone up?” Lashbrook said. “I look at the entire team.”
In last year’s state finals, Youel and Wallace reached the consolation quarterfinals and compiled a 6-2 tournament record. It was a long road there after losing in the third round of the championship bracket. They were the only team in the quarterfinals that lost a third-round match.
They also were the only unseeded team to reach the quarterfinals.
Even with its success, the pair is focusing on what it has yet to accomplish, not on what it already has done.
“It’s a new year and new players,” Youel said. “You start all over again.”
“We just are going into the season treating it like any other season,” Wallace said.
Although the approach will be the same, Youel said they are setting lofty goals.
“I think every player should have the goal to win it all,” she said.
New Coaches: Five area teams have new coaches this season – Jim Benson at Prairie Ridge, Stephanie McClure at Dundee-Crown, Bill Jepsen at Hampshire, Laurie Bender at Cary-Grove and Sonesacksith Siripanya at Marengo.
Benson switches schools after having coached the Jacobs boys varsity and girls frosh/soph teams the past three seasons. It’s a return home for Benson, who played tennis for the Wolves.
It was a difficult decision to leave Jacobs, Benson said, but the opportunity to coach both the boys and girls varsity teams at his alma mater was something he couldn’t refuse. Even with the familiar surroundings, Benson said it has been an adjustment.
“It’s different just even going through the prematch talks,” Benson said. “It’s nice to say ‘Welcome to PR.’ ”
Jepsen still is getting to know his players and the local tennis scene after coaching in California the past six years. He said he equates being a coach and setting a lineup to that of a chef.
“What’s the ingredients and what’s the best dish I can make,” Jepsen said.
Bender is new to the varsity job but has been coaching the Trojans frosh/soph teams for more than 20 years.
Singles: Youel and Wallace are the dominant doubles team in the area, but the top singles player is a little tougher to pinpoint.
Here are the possible contenders:
Ashley Kosy, Jacobs: Kosy, a sophomore, won the South Elgin Sectional to qualify for state last year and was third in the Fox Valley Conference Meet. She will benefit from that experience this season, Golden Eagles coach Jon Betts said.
“It’s going to help [Kosy] out quite a bit. She’s been working hard,” Betts said. “Hopefully, we’re picking up where we left off.”
Julia Thome, Crystal Lake South: After winning the FVC Meet at No. 2 singles and qualifying for state with her sister Marisa in doubles last season, Thome moves up to the top spot.
Ana Fedmasu, Woodstock: Fedmasu placed third in the Cary-Grove Sectional to qualify for state and second at the FVC Meet.
Callie Schmit, Prairie Ridge: Schmit took fourth at the Cary-Grove Sectional to qualify for state for the first time.