Updated: May 12, 2013 2:17PM
Much like the boys in the fall, the local girls adjusted to a statewide IHSAA realignment last spring. In one of the most interesting readjusted battles, Munster faced Highland early into the sectional and broke its two-year postseason losing streak against the Trojans before going on to the semistate. The Trojans, however, saw continued success beyond that point as sisters Aby and Vanessa Madrigal took home the doubles state championship. Bobbi Modesto of Chesterton finished her high school career (she’s now playing at IUPUI) being named the Post-Tribune player of the year after the Trojans defeated conference foe Valparaiso in an exciting 3-2 finish at the Portage Sectional final.
P-T Top 5
The Mustangs (20-2, no local losses) reasserted themselves as the top region club last spring and are looking for even more this year. With the majority of the team intact from last year’s regional championship squad — including first-team all-state singles player, junior Jessica Rooth — and a large class of incoming freshman, the top NCC squad has its eyes set on Indy.
Ending with a gritty 3-2 sectional final victory over the Vikings, the 2012 season (18-2) also meant the graduation of the dominant singles player Bobbi Modesto from the program. Four varsity members — including talented singles player Meg Modesto — are back, while six others are vying for the remaining roles.
With six out of the top seven players coming back, the Vikings are due to be an evenly balanced team this season. Including talented sisters Kelly and Caitlin Kennedy (both all-district singles players in 2012) the bulk of the roster is intact. Coach Tim Shideler has nine hitters that are well equipped.
4. Crown Point
The Bulldogs have continued to garner a reputation as an area team to take seriously. And coming off another sectional crown and a 14-5 record, the Dogs return with good promise as four of the top seven players — including second-team all-state singles player Amber Haworth — are back and ready.
Things have changed since last year’s 15-2 season for the Trojans. But even with a new lineup and a new coach, the familiar faces of the Madrigal sisters will be a driving force. Seniors Aby and Vanessa, reigning state doubles champions, help lead this NCC squad (with five back that dressed for the sectionala), which is one of the most formidable teams in NWI.
There’s a positive vibe for this year’s Oilers team. Though some key girls were lost to graduation the GSSC program returns with momentum after posting a 14-3 record. Helping lead the charge is junior Grace Huss, who went 17-2 from the No. 3 doubles spot.
Strides have been made and the Wolves tennis program is shaping up. A big factor between the offseason and now has been training. Some of the returning hitters, such as junior singles player Stephanie Montreiul, have developed more off of lessons.
There’s something be said for experience and North Judson could reap the benefits from it. The Bluejays return six of their seven starters from last year’s team that finished 8-7. Included in that pack are four seniors — singles players Jordann Frasure and Rachel Ammons and doubles players Ann Chinworth and Becca Mullens.
The Governors are another outfit that benefits from experience, as each of their returning players have seen varsity time. And after going 8-9 in 2012 and winning the Great Lakes Conference tournament, the hope is there to keep going forward. Junior Nancy Martinez heads up the lineup from the No. 1 singles slot.
The Bearcats could be a true test for Whiting in the GSSC. Coming back from a year that included injuries to all three singles players, Wheeler (7-8, 4-2) has 12 girls looking to get their shot at varsity and seasoned upperclassmen (like senior singles player Shelby Loftus) ready for duels.
Five Hitters to Watch
Aby and Vanessa Madrigal, Highland
The Madrigal sisters are two of the fiercest competitors around the area and have been since they were freshmen. And as strong as they were during their postseason run to take the doubles title, both girls are also tough singles players. Whichever way the Trojans lineup goes, this tandem will be a major factor.
Jessica Rooth, Munster
Not many make it to first-team all-state, but Rooth earned her spot in 2012. From the No. 1 singles spot, the junior helped the Mustangs make their first trip to the semistate since the 2009 season.
Amber Haworth, Crown Pt.
This accomplished singles player (who made it to the second-team all-state list in 2012) will be looking to lead the Bulldogs to their 24th sectional title. Haworth also joined teammate Abby Kvachkoff on the first-team all-conference list.
Kelly and Caitlin Kennedy, Valparaiso
The Kennedys are another strong 1-2 sibling punch. Both are versatile and can shift to play in either doubles or singles. In 2012’s promising showing, the tandem’s efforts brought them all-district honors and helped keep Valparaiso a threat in both the regular season (including conference play) and the IHSAA tournament.
Meg Modesto, Chesterton
The Modesto family has made its presence well known in local tennis circles and this sophomore hasn’t been an exception. As a freshman, playing in the Chesterton singles rotation, Modesto earned an honorable mention on the all-state list. With the graduation of her sister Bobbi, look for Meg in the top of the Trojans rotation.
Five New Faces
Jordan Heckard, Highland
Heckard fills the shoes of coach Adam Baez, who stepped down after leading the Trojans since the 2001 season. The first-year coach played No. 1 doubles on the Valparaiso boys team that went 19-2 and made it to the state finals in 2003. This marks a busy year for Heckard, who also took on the boys basketball head coaching position at the school.
Brianna Baez, Whiting
The last name is a familiar one in both boys and girls tennis, as this freshman’s father is former Highland coach Adam Baez. According to Oilers coach Arthur Young, the younger Baez will step in and contribute. And her father will be there to watch, as he joined the team as an assistant coach.
Lucia Baria, Boone Grove
The sophomore is an exchange student from Spain and brings five years of playing experience to a Wolves team that is working on improving skill sets. Coach Dave Paupp said the Spanish hitter appears to be a good singles player.
Kasey Kulesa, Munster
This Mustangs junior isn’t exactly a new face to the program, but her expectation level this spring is something new. After playing several matches at No. 2 doubles in 2012, she broke through on the area’s top-ranked team to earn a full-time spot in the varsity rotation to start the campaign.
Rachel Crookston , Valparaiso
Crookston is another example of multiple family members playing the same sport. Soon after last year’s graduation of her older brother Adam, who also played for coach Tim Shideler on the boys side, the freshman is carrying on the tradition with the girls. She’s already suited up for a No. 1 doubles match this season.