Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 2, 2013

Young Pirate netters open Tuesday

Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The Greensburg girls tennis program is coming off three straight sectional championships as it opens the 2013 spring season at home Tuesday afternoon.

Following last spring’s 4-1 sectional title over Jennings County, Greensburg advanced to the Regional Final with a 5-0 win over Seymour. The Lady Pirates bowed out of the tournament with a 4-1 loss to state-ranked Columbus North.

This year, head coach Gary Bailey looks forward to working with the 20 girls who came out for the team. Most of the girls will be new faces, as the number of freshmen and sophomores nearly doubles the number of juniors and seniors.

“We have a really good mix,” he said. “We have a lot to choose from for the seven varsity spots. We’re young and inexperienced, but I’m excited.”

Greensburg loses seven seniors to graduation (Alexis Bailey, Olivia Butz, Brooke Faulconer, Sara Kramer, Vanessa Lawrence, Lyndsey Louder and Amanda Patti), including four of the seven starting spots on last year’s roster.

Bailey welcomes back three varsity players, including senior Kaeli Fong, junior Claire Welage and sophomore Danielle Schroeder.

In addition to Fong, playing in their final high school seasons are seniors Ella Westhafer and Bindi Patel. Westhafer played her freshman and sophomore seasons, but not last year.

“I’m happy to have her,” said Bailey of Westhafer.

Patel is also a tennis veteran.

“She’s fun to have,” said Bailey of Patel. “She works hard and the girls really like her.”

Bailey said the three singles positions, although they are subject to change, have been based on challenge matches conducted in practice.

“I have  a lot of girls who can play varsity,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with this team. I’m excited. We have some young and inexperienced kids, but I’m excited.”

Fong, who played third singles last season, will play at second singles this year.

Welage, the third of three Welage sisters within a decade to play singles, moves up from seconds doubles to third singles.

“She’s got the pedigree,” said Bailey of Claire. “If I have a Welage in the lineup, I’m pretty happy.”

Taking over Kramer’s first singles spot is Schroeder.

According to Bailey, both doubles teams will be new.

“That’s not to say I’m not excited about it,” he said of the doubles scenario. “There will be four girls in very competitive spots.”

He added that several girls are capable of filling those spots.

“Out of 17 girls who aren’t playing singles, 12 are in the running right now,” he said. “Nearly every girl on the team can get a varsity spot.”

Bailey said he is pleased with the composition he has seen from the squad.

“As far as their athletic ability and competitiveness, this is as good of a team as I’ve had in a while,” he said. “I have a lot of girls who like to compete.”

When asked what the team’s goals are this season, Bailey used one word - win. The Lady Pirates are targeting a conference championship, a fourth straight sectional title, and to improve from day to day.

Greensburg’s juniors are Kate Bausback, Tori Giddings, Erin Hamilton, and Welage.

Sophomores on the team are Courtney Nelson, Caroline Pratt, Sydney Reynolds, Natalie Rivera, Schroeder, Olivia Slusher and Tiffany Springmeyer.

The team’s freshmen include Abby Bailey, Cheyenne Dunn, Mackenzie Kovacich, Martina Kramer, Kelly Meyer and Hely Patel.

The Pirates will travel to South Dearborn next Monday to open competition in the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference, then host Oldenburg Academy Tuesday. Greensburg will compete in the Shelbyville Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m., and the Franklin Invitational May 4. The EIAC tournament is May 11 at Greensburg, and the Pirates will host the Sectionals the following week.

Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.