Tennis returns with young squad
Last year, the Morton girls tennis team pulled away from Metamora with the conference title at the conference tournament, ending its four year run.
This year, coach Brad Boeker hopes to gain the title back, but it will be with a younger squad than normal.
“We’ll be quite a bit younger than we’ve been the last several years,” Boeker said. “We graduated three seniors with a lot of experience, especially Megan Nguyen.”
Leading the team with experience in both singles and doubles from last year will be Melissa Ringenberg.
“We’re going into this season with a lot more questions than we’ve had before. If we had to play a match today, I have no idea who our top six would be,” Boeker said on Thursday.
Boeker, in his eighth season coaching the team, started off this year of practice with a round robin format to let the girls play each other.
“I talked to my coaching friends, it really just depends on philosophy, but I believe in letting it play out and let it shake out,” he said. “That gives every kid a chance to show what they can or can’t do.”
Overall, 10 juniors returned from last year, five with varsity experience, along with two seniors.
So far, Ringenberg and Becca Eller may be two of the biggest contributors to the team due to their offseason play. Both played in a lot of USTA tournaments over the summer, and Boeker added that Eller has “improved really dramatically from last year.”
Another player that had some varsity singles experience last year is Sharon Adkinson, who should see a bigger role this year.
Looking towards the season, Boeker expects both Morton and Dunlap, who he’s looking forward to facing, to be fighting at the top of the conference.
He’s also looking forward to a two-day tournament in Bloomington that comes a week before the conference tournament.
“They play singles on Friday and doubles on Saturday,” he said. “That’s the last weekend in September. That’s a 16-team tournament with schools from Chicago.”
As far as Metamora’s standings in the conference this year, Boeker still isn’t quite sure.
“It really is a giant question mark this season,” he said. “We’ve done very well recently and we don’t want to give up our perch close to the top.”