MARION — Taryn Simmers ended her decorated career as a Mid Ohio Athletic Conference champion at first singles and as a two-time Division I Central District qualifier for Marion Harding.
She was the best girls tennis player in Marion County the last two seasons, but the Presidents will persist without her in 2023.
Simmers and first doubles player Jayde Pineda graduated, but the bulk of the team remains for longtime coach Blaine Pitts. They went 10-2 to finish as league runners-up and ended 15-6 overall a year ago.
“(We) should be pretty solid at singles,” he said, adding that they are giving him good effort with good attitudes.
Junior Audrey Feasel was an MOAC runner-up in second singles as was senior Sierra Silverio at third singles. Junior Raina Smith and sophomore Sophie Beechum took second in the league at second doubles, while Autumn Silverio played doubles with Pineda and finished third in the MOAC.
Senior Lauren Anspaugh earned a letter filling it at doubles last year, and newcomers who could crack the varsity lineup include juniors Kaia Berry and Abbey Hoetz and sophomore Abigail Hanke.
Pitts, who is in his 30th season with the Presidents and 36th overall as a varsity tennis coach, hopes his team can challenge Shelby for the MOAC title.
The goals? “Win our invitational, at least 15 dual match wins, at least second in the conference (and) have at least one conference champion,” said Pitts who will be assisted by Wes Maher.
Pleasant experience key for Spartans
In her ninth season at Pleasant, coach Kirsten Jordan might have her most experienced squad. Five seniors with multiple years of playing time at the varsity level fill a team that graduated no one in 2022.
“We have strong senior leadership and experience at all spots. We finished strong last year and want to continue to work towards that this year,” the coach said.
Maura Murphy is a three-year letter winner who was first-team MOAC in first singles in 2022. Katie Jordan has three letters and was second-team MOAC in second singles as was Hannah Miller in third singles. Lauren West and Anna Wenig both have two letters and were honorable mention in the conference at doubles.
Jordan and assistant coach Allison Edwards have been working with the players to finish their matches in a positive way. They went 7-4 in the MOAC and 9-4 overall as a squad last year.
“Each girl has goals they are competing for and (they) have worked hard to put themselves in positions to be successful this season,” Jordan said.
If they can put it together, the Spartans can challenge Shelby and Harding atop the MOAC.
“We know we can compete with both,” she said. “We want to compete for the top spot, and (with) the hard work the girls have put in, I feel we can get there.”
River Valley roster turns over
Longtime River Valley coach Shery Jenkins will be working with a largely new group this fall.
Gone to graduation were Aliyah Baker, Shayla Pappert, Gabby Cametti and Macyn Danals.
Senior Rose Linville will move from second doubles to first singles, while junior Amelia Young will take over at second singles after working in second doubles last year. Senior Addi Comstock will again play in first doubles.
Junior Ariana Osborne and junior Elise Osborne will leave volleyball for the tennis court, while sophomore Kennedy Rensch and junior Ava Stover will move up from the junior varsity most likely.
“(We) lack singles experience and only (have) three returning letter winners,” Jenkins said.
The coach said they have put in the work this summer and the roster is versatile enough to move from singles to doubles if needed.
After a 7-13 year in 2022, what does Jenkins want to see from her group?
“Continued improvement and win more matches as the year goes on (and) win our invitational,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Girls tennis 2023: Experience key on courts