Competition a driving force for Beaver tennis in 2006
August 10, 2006
As the 2006 fall season approaches, the Bluffton University women's tennis team is gearing up for a competitive and exciting year. With an overall record of 2-10 and a seventh place finish in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in 2005, the Beavers anticipate improvement and growth as they prepare for the upcoming campaign. "Last season, players were challenged by having to play in positions where they did not necessarily feel comfortable," noted head coach Jessica Grandey. "Playing tougher competition only helped to make them stronger players." Entering her third year as head coach of the women's tennis team, Grandey is excited about the potential the upcoming season holds.
The 2006 squad will return to action without 2005 All-HCAC honoree Kara Schrock (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge), Rachel Yoder (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite), and Stephanie Welch (Berne, Ind./South Adams), all lost to graduation. Having filled the two, four, and six singles spots respectively, they leave behind formidable holes to fill.
|With the loss of those three individuals, Grandey will look to her returning core of upperclassmen to lead the team with their experience in match situations. Seniors Lisa Cherry (Waterville/Anthony Wayne), Sarah Hodges (Lima/Lima Central Catholic), and Jenna Liechty (Goshen, Ind./Bethany Christian), a two-time All-HCAC performer, return for a final year with the Beavers. Also returning for Bluffton is junior Chelsey Wenger (Bellefontaine/Bellefontaine), and sophomores Devra Doan (Wooster/Central Christian) and Brittany Zeigler (Telford, Pa./Christopher Dock). "The upperclassmen will provide stability for this team," Grandey noted. "They know what it takes to be successful in conference, which will be very helpful."|
According to Grandey, the HCAC looks to be competitive once again, with Manchester and Hanover expected to finish at the top. Along with the addition of Rose-Hulman to the conference, new rules allow only the top eight finishers in the HCAC regular season to continue into the post-season conference tournament. She believes that the adjustments will "change the way the team plays," demanding an increased level of emphasis on the regular season.
In addition to returning players, Grandey is excited about the addition of several new faces to this year's team. Freshmen Courtney Hodson (Washington Court House/Washington Sr.), Rachel Huckaba (Perrysburg/Perrysburg), Jenna Kauffman (Wooster/Central Christian), and Kaleigh Wright (Circleville/Circleville) will immediately compete for time on the court. Sophomore Rae McKee (Van Buren/Van Buren) also joins the lineup for the first time. Grandey looks for the freshmen class to help challenge and stretch the team to new levels, while increasing the depth in 2006.