Westfield — The first official practice for girls tennis was on March 11.
And after waiting nearly a month for their season opener, the Zionsville girls tennis team hit the court for the first time Monday and showed what they are capable of.
The Eagles topped the Shamrocks 5-0 in the season opener to move to 1-0 on the year.
“The girls were really excited to get going,” Zionsville head coach Stephanie Reece said. “The atmosphere in the team has been solid — we have new uniforms, it’s a new season and you are starting fresh. They were pretty pumped, and with the weather being what it has been, they were much more prepared.”
It wasn’t a flawless performance, but for a season opener, Reece was happy with what she saw from the team.
Especially on the first day back from Spring Break.
“A lot of the girls didn’t practice much over break, but we got a lot of good work in outside before the break,” Reece said. “That was a lot better than last year, and I think the girls were much more used to the elements. It is a pretty tough to come back and have a match the first day, but we had to be ready to do, because other teams are in the same boat.”
At No. 1 singles, freshman Sophie Herrman was dominant in her high school debut.
She topped Westfield’s Chloe Kalis 6-0, 6-0.
“She is match tough and plays tournaments year round,” Reece said of Herrman. “Competing right off the bat after break isn’t a big deal for her.”
Zionsville made it 2-0 with a win at No. 2 doubles, with the Zionsville team of Sierra Allen and Sophie Regele won 6-0, 6-1 against Westfield’s Katy Zaloudek and Hannah Pensyl.
At No. 1 doubles, the Eagles team of Lauren Campbell and Simryn Kapur won the first set against Westfield’s Meredith Carlson and Maya Raymond 6-0, but dropped the second 6-2.
Campbell and Kapur were down 2-1 in the third set, but won the final five games to win the match.
“That wasn’t a bad test for Lauren and Simryn,” Reece said. “I expected Westfield’s doubles to be strong. Eventhough they have gotten some good practice time in, match play is different. You get a little more nervous and they knew they would be tested, but I think they just lost the momentum in the second set. It was good to get it back early in the third.”
At No. 2 singles, Brittany Jones won 6-4, 6-1 over Julia Gabbenesh and at No. 3 singles, Rachel Mingus won 6-2, 6-1 over Emma Schwind.
When looking at the season as a whole, Zionsville is poised to have a strong season.
The Eagles return six of their seven players from last year’s team, and add a strong No. 1 singles player in Herrman.
Back is Campbell, who advanced to the the state semifinals in the doubles tournament a year ago. She reunites with Kapur, who was her doubles partner prior to last year.
All three singles players are back, but will be bumped down a spot and Allen will fill in at doubles.
“We don’t want to have any bad losses this year,” Reece said. “Beating the teams you should beat, isn’t always as easy as it sounds. We want to sneak a couple wins against some of the top teams too. We want to do better in the HCC Tournament this year. We won both doubles spots last year, and improving on that would be nice. Each day, if the girls feel like they got better than the day before, than the results will take care of themselves. We are just focused on one match at a time.”
While there is a lot of veteran leadership throughout the lineup, Reece said a couple of players have emerged as being the captains of the team.
“Our captains are Brittant and Lauren Campbell and that is voted on by the girls,” Reece said. “I think that says a lot. Lauren learned last year to be a little bit of a leader, with doing well at No. 1 doubles with her sister. Brittany has played all over the line-up in her career and played No. 1 last year. She had a tough year last year, and had some tough opponents. They are respected by the other girls and they are two that stand out.”
Reece said that one of the good things about having the veteran group that they have, is that the girls are used to playing with each other.
The coach said they are a close knit group, and that will be a strength for the team.
“The experience and the camaraderie of the team is the strength,” Reece said. “We don’t have drama, and the girls on varsity all the way through JV get along and they play with who we ask them too. The girls all pitch in and support each other, and that is nice to see.”