The Center Grove girls tennis sectional is next week, which means 19th-year coach Debby Burton must settle on a postseason lineup.
Not an easy task considering 12 of her players have already played varsity either at singles or doubles.
“Some of that is getting other players some experience. It’s nice to have the depth to be able to do that,” said Burton. “We have two different combinations we’re looking at for the postseason.
“We want to have an opportunity to compete for that state title.”
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Center Grove’s deepest postseason run came in 2010, when it advanced to the State Finals before losing to eventual champion South Bend St. Joseph’s in the semifinals, 5-0.
That same St. Joseph’s program defeated the Trojans, 3-2, in the quarterfinal round last season after Center Grove won semistate for the second time in program history.
Four of the seven players that took part in that match help form the nucleus of Burton’s current squad, which is ranked third in the state and 11-2 in dual meets this season. The Trojans’ two losses have come to the two teams ranked ahead of them — No. 1 Carmel and No. 2 Cathedral.
On Saturday, the Trojans showed off their impressive late-season form by winning the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference tournament for only the second time in program history and the first time in 11 years.
Taking first place were senior Maddie Weeks at No. 3 singles, the top doubles tandem of juniors Isabella Schoolcraft and Cassidy Cardin and the No. 2 doubles duo of senior Carleigh Hardin and sophomore Ellie Strube.
Schoolcraft has played No. 1 singles as well as some doubles matches for the Trojans this spring. Weeks, who competed at No. 2 singles at state a year ago, also has played No. 3 singles this season.
Others who are tournament-tested from a year ago are the Hardin sisters. Both played doubles in 2016 and are doing so again this season.
Katelyn Gray, a senior, has played both 1 and 2 singles at different points of the season. Weeks and junior Emily Hoy have both represented Center Grove at 2 and 3 singles, and even played doubles.
Others who have factored in are Strube and her classmate, Jillian Garrett. The latter has played some No. 3 singles.
“We have a lot of depth and talent on this team,” said Gray, a four-year starter who will play next season at the NAIA level for Taylor University. “A lot of us play tennis year-round, so we know each other from that.
“Having good team chemistry is important, too, and we have that. Even the junior varsity players are good leaders for us.”
The sectional gets underway May 17.
“We’re right on target for what I thought we should be doing,” Burton said. “We have a lot of kids who really like to play tennis and have put in a lot of time outside of the season. They get along well and push each other in practice.”
A look at how Center Grove girls tennis has fared in the postseason:
Sectionals: 27 championships, tied for ninth all-time in Indiana.
Regionals: 18 championships, tied for sixth all-time.
Semistates: Won titles in 2010 and 2016.
State Finals: Reached semifinal round in 2010; lost in quarterfinals in 2016.