GRATIS — Last year was a monumental one for the Preble Shawnee girls tennis team — they won the Southwestern Buckeye League conference title for the first time in school history.
This season, the Lady Arrows aim to add another crown to the school’s trophy case.
Coach Dave Hubbard is back at the helm for his seventh season, compiling a career record of 59-40 during his tenure at Preble Shawnee. He inherits a strong core of players who should be a considerable force to reckon with in the SWBL.
The team will be without star player Brooklyn Hubbard, Dave’s daughter, who was a three-time All-SWBL player and All-Area first team selection. She is now playing as a freshman at Indiana University East at Richmond.
“We went 18-1 last year and won the conference,” Hubbard said. “This year, we have six players returning. All of them are key returning players for us and did very well last year. We had a lot of rotation last year, so they know the ropes and can all contribute.”
“What we accomplished last year is something special for all of us,” he said. “But that doesn’t give us any sort of momentum for this season. It’s a clean slate for us. We’re really looking at it as a new season and we are not taking anything for granted.”
Senior Sidney Quillen is the most experienced player on the roster.
“I want to take the league title again,” said Quillen. As the only senior on the team, she’s looking forward to handling the leadership for the Lady Arrows.
“I’ve been playing for all three years here and I love it,” Quillen added. Her 2015 record was 22-1 at #2 singles and she is expected to be #3 singles this year. Ashlyn Hubbard, a junior, is expected to be the top singles player on the team and the top singles player in the league.
Sophomores Allison Zornes and Alivia Reek were the #1 doubles duo last year and expect to be again this year.
Also returning are sophomores Jane Feck and Lauren Smith, who both lettered last year.
With a solid core of experienced players, the Arrows welcome some new players to the team.
“We have Shay Neal and Kirsten Boone, who are sophomores, and Emma Batsche, a freshman,” said Hubbard. “The sophomores came in at the last moment before practices began. They didn’t do any of our summer training, so they are really new. But all three newcomers are adapting and striking the ball really well. There is only one open spot on the starting roster, so there is some fierce competition for that position.”
The Lady Arrows will begin the regular season with a furious start. The first match is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 15, against Talawanda. On Tuesday, Aug. 16, they will be on the road against Lebanon. Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 17-18, night will be home meets against Madison and Middletown respectively.
“We put Talawanda back on the schedule for the first time in several years,” said Hubbard. “Just as we lost our best player to graduation, they lost their number one as well. So I think we will match up well against Talawanda. They are a pretty tough school. But these four matches will give us a strong perspective about our team and we’ll use that week to set the roster up before the league games.”
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062.