With two returning players, four brand new, and an experienced German exchange student on the team, Hillsboro girls’ tennis is a seven-piece athletic puzzle to solve this season.
“I’m just trying to figure out where all the pieces go,” coach Bob Woelk said. “A lot is going to depend on how the girls perform in competition.”
Juniors Ellian Weisbeck and Shelby Johnson return as second year players. Woelk said both have shown improvement from last year, but still have areas of their game to work on.
“Usually the junior year is where girls start to come into their own and get more physical,” Woelk said. “With these girls it’s a question of how much they’ve improved.”
Both girls are hard hitters, Woelk said, and will likely start out playing as the Trojans No. 1 doubles team.
After getting a handle for the game last year, he said Weisbeck’s attitude has become much more competitive.
“Ellian has a good set of tools, and a good understanding of the game,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how far she wants to take it, how intense she wants to be, and keeping up that intensity.”
Woelk said Johnson showed improvement at the end of last year’s season.
“I told her I want her to pick up where she left off,” he said. “She understands the game’s strategy and knows her strengths and limitations.”
Caroline Roth, a 15-year-old German exchange student, will likely start out as the Trojans No. 1 singles player, Woelk said.
“She’s fairly young, but she has quite a bit of experience playing on clay courts,” Woelk said. “She’s had to adjust her foot work. She is used to being able to slide into shots on clay but she stops short on the hard courts we play. It’s taken her a bit to adjust because the ball reacts differently, too.”
Woelk said Roth has a variety of shots in her arsenal that could help her succeed. She puts spin on the ball when she serves and can hit drop shots with spin, too.
“It’s difficult to out-slug her,” Woelk said. “Caroline’s shots have a lot of top spin. She mops up the court with me. But I really don’t know how she will react to competition because she is not used to playing our style of tennis.”
Sophomores Grace Damon and Kayla Gunn and freshmen Abby Fryhover and Destiny Holinde have been learning tennis basics in practice.
“I’m happy to have them, but they’re taking it from the beginning,” Woelk said. “It takes a while to get up to speed. They’re out there working hard every day.”
Woelk’s younger players will likely “take their lumps early” playing varsity this year because there is no junior varsity schedule, he said.
“A lot is up in the air,” Woelk said. “My goals are to bring the beginners up to a level where they can be competitive, and I’d also like to see how far the experienced players can go.”