WARSAW – Warsaw girls tennis coach Rick Orban has a quartet of quality players competing for spots in his singles lineup this spring.
The veteran mentor knows that it’s a good problem to have.
“It’s a good situation to have,” said Orban of the competition for the three singles spots. “We have four really strong players competing and our singles lineup should be very strong again this season.”
The Tigers return their entire singles lineup from a year ago in the trio of juniors Liza Lewis (No. 1), Colette Smith (No. 2) and Ella Knight (No. 3). Freshman Alyssa Zellers is the fourth player in the mix to possibly play singles for the squad.
“I really don’t know the lineup,” stated Orban prior to his team taking this past week off for Spring Break. “We’ve only had a handful of days outside to practice.
“The opener (versus Fort Wayne Canterbury) will definitely tell me some things. Our lineup could change a lot early in the season.”
Warsaw put together a 12-6 season a year ago. The Tigers won their 16th straight sectional championship before adding the program’s first regional title since 2005 with a thrilling 3-2 win over conference rival Plymouth in the regional title match. Smith won a four-hour match at No. 2 singles to clinch the regional title. Warsaw then lost 5-0 to No. 4 South Bend St. Joseph in the Culver Academies Semistate.
The Tigers lost just one senior from a year ago in Rosie Fleming, who played No. 2 doubles in the semistate. Hannah Rice, who played No. 1 doubles before being injured in the regional final, decided not to play this season.
Warsaw has just one senior this spring in Athena Schlitt. Schlitt played No. 1 doubles last year, teaming with freshman Rachel Boyle in the semistate with Rice sidelined.
“Our doubles teams are going to be interesting this season,” noted Orban. “I anticipate changes there early in the year. It’s all about finding the right mix.”
“I think that talent-wise we’re as deep or more so than last year. Our goals are to repeat last year and this team is capable of that. They have the confidence to know that they can do it. It won’t be easy though. This team will not sneak up on anyone this year.
“It comes down to all of the girls embracing whatever position on the team they are playing for us. It comes down to them being focused.”
Warsaw opens the season by hosting Fort Wayne Canterbury Tuesday. The Tigers begin Northern Lakes Conference play at Plymouth April 18.