DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
As evidenced by three straight trips to the IHSAA Girls Tennis State Finals, Greenwood has emerged as one of the top powers in the area and state.
But if the Woodmen are to make it four straight trips to the team finals, they must quickly rebuild in the wake of heavy graduation losses and a coaching change.
Greenwood not only lost standout singles players Jackie Kawamoto and twin sister Jade Kawamoto to graduation, it has a new head coach, Jeremy Runge. He replaces Steve Gantz, who retired at the end of last season after serving 20 years as coach.
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Moreover, the Woodmen return only two starters from last year — juniors Joanna Moran and Abby Chatham, who both played doubles.
But the Woodmen return players with varsity experience: Molly Jacobs, Sadie Brooks, Ally Newman, Nike Novak and Amber Marks.
Freshmen Alyssa Roscoe and Maddie Bright also are expected to contribute.
Greenwood opens the season April 8 at Warren Central.
The Trojans appear to be in a good position for postseason success with a combination of experienced varsity players and newcomers.
Coach Debbie Burton said the team will again be young, with most starting spots filled by freshmen and sophomores but complemented with a sprinkling of upperclassmen.
“We are looking for an exciting season,” Burton said.
Center Grove returns three starters from last year, including junior Madison Smeathers and sophomores Katelyn Gray and Bailey Sammons.
Others with varsity experience are senior Katie Parker and sophomores Maddie Weeks and Carleigh Hardin.
Freshmen expected to see immediate action are Isabella Schoolcraft and Emily Hoy.
The Trojans open the season at home April 14 against Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rival North Central.
Fourth-year coach Rachel Matusik has another large group of players returning this season.
Traditionally, numbers have been a problem for the Lancers. But they have 20 players on the roster.
“They are all dedicated athletes willing to put in the time necessary to improve our team,” Matusik noted.
The returning singles starters are junior Lillie Parmer, sophomore Vanessa Hoskins and junior Miranda Burton. They played Nos. 1, 2 and 3 singles, respectively.
Doubles players back include seniors Ashlyn Streeval, Baleigh Downton and junior Albani Brown, and sophomore Allie Schooler.
Edinburgh opens the season April 7 at Knightstown.
Although the Grizzly Cubs lost their top singles players to graduation, coach Rusty Hughes is optimistic about the season.
That’s because the Cubs return a number of starters from last year, including senior Lexi Hash, who played No. 3 singles, and senior doubles players Ashlyn Smith, Katie Bemis, Anna Purk and Kaitlyn Ogden.
Others expected to challenge for starting positions are seniors Morgan McCarter and Ashley Waddell; juniors Nina Biasi and Shelby Miles; sophomore Maddie Long; and freshman Abigail Smith.
Franklin opens the season April 6 at Perry Meridian.
After taking a one-year hiatus, Ryan Posey returns to coach the Braves this season. Rex Wilson, who served as head coach last season, will stay on as top assistant.
With the graduation loss of only two seniors, Indian Creek is expected to field a strong team, especially with the return of two former players who sat out last season.
Those two players are senior Raven Danz and her sister, Candace Danz, a junior.
The returning starters are seniors Allyson Smith and Katie Huter, and junior McKayla Russell.
Other players expected to contribute are junior Lucy Kieweg and freshmen Lacey Tekulve, Adi Rund, Mackenzie Hunter and Mya Piccione.
The Braves open the season April 13 at Martinsville.
Coach Mike Gillespie is looking to shore up a lineup left thin by the graduation of four players from last year’s 11-6 team.
But the Warriors do return No. 1 singles player Madison Scott, a junior. Also returning are senior Alexis Corda and sophomore Paitlyn Gossett.
Others who will challenge for varsity spots include seniors Sami Jo Hart and Alesia Robinson; juniors Lucy Foster, Sam Gearhart and Audrey Morgan, in addition to sophomores Avneet Badwal and Danielle Patterson.
The Warriors open the season at home against Mid-State Conference rival Decatur Central on April 8.