With only six players on the team, Hillsboro High School girls’ tennis can’t afford for anyone to get hurt.
On the bright side, the small team size means every player will get a lot of varsity experience and individual attention, coach Bob Woelk said Thursday.
“Obviously, we’re young and inexperienced,” he said. “We lost five seniors.”
Becky Faber and Emma Heyen advanced to the state tournament in doubles during their final season. Elise Heyen, Aubrey Meier, and Hayley Pankratz also graduated.
But after a few days of practice, Woelk said he likes this year’s team, even though it is hard to predict how well they will compete.
“(They are) just a great group of girls,” he said. “I love their work ethic.”
He expects everyone will play some singles and some doubles, unlike last year when the varsity lineup was set early in the season.
Courtney Weber is the only senior and returning letter-winner. Woelk said he plans to have her start the season playing singles, although she only played doubles in 2010. She and teammate Elise Heyen narrowly missed advancing to the state tournament.
Woelk is mostly concerned about confidence for the three juniors, because they have little varsity experience.
“There’s no substitute for playing and getting some success,” he said.
“Katie (Claassen) has all of a sudden developed a nice serve,” he said. “She has made a lot of improvements.”
Peyton Loewen is showing good fundamentals and quickness in practice, Woelk said.
“Erin (Winter) is probably the best groundstroker,” he said. “She’s a pretty strong hitter, and she’s got the height.”
Her height could make her a good net defender for doubles, he said.
The two freshmen on the team mostly need experience to really contribute to the team, Woelk said.
Allison Weber may be a wildcard, because she has a lot of natural talent but little experience, he said.
“I suspect she will be a factor.”
Claire Heyen is making good progress every day in practice.
“Claire will be fine,” Woelk said. “Just, again, she needs the experience.”
Junior Bailey Kaufman was a late addition to the team. It will be her first season playing tennis.
The Trojans begin their season with a home meet, starting at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.