ROCHELLE — Back-to-back victories put the Rochelle girls tennis team on a roll to start the 2019 season. While the Lady Hubs were unable to lock down any more wins afterward, head coach Lizzie Cartwright was encouraged with how competitive the girls were during each match.
Rochelle finished 2-13 overall with wins over Rockford Lutheran and Belvidere. The Lady Hubs placed sixth in the Interstate 8 Conference Varsity Championships while taking 11th place in the IHSA 1A Sectional at Boylan Catholic.
“I was really excited that we got off to a strong start,” Cartwright said. “I was really pleased with how all the girls performed, even though our record wasn’t very outstanding. The girls did a wonderful job and I’m proud of how they all played.”
Doubles play allowed Rochelle to stay competitive in several matches both in and out of conference play. Of the 14 match points the Lady Hubs claimed in dual matches this season, 12 of those came via doubles victories, with senior Ruth Gardner recording the two remaining points by winning singles matches against Aurora Central Catholic and Princeton.
Several Lady Hub doubles players are eligible to return next season including the No. 1 pair of sophomores Jordin Dickey and MeLisa Young. Juniors Sawyer McGee, Melanie Gonzalez and sophomores Emma Hicks and Margaux DaCosta may also come back as the Lady Hubs look to build a sustainable core group moving forward.
“I really encouraged the girls to continue doing conditioning, weightlifting and agility drills through the high school,” Cartwright said. “I want them to be as active as possible and my expectation is that they come out to the open courts over the summer. That will be a great time for them to develop their skills.”
Three seniors will be departing from the program including Gardner, Avri Olsen and Caitlin McMurray, who spent most of the season as Rochelle’s No. 1 singles player. Junior Anna Guevara will be eligible to return after playing No. 2 singles for the Lady Hubs this fall.
“It’s difficult to be a singles player,” Cartwright said. “A lot of top players for teams are singles players, but I thought Caitlin really developed her technique during the season and I saw a lot of improvement in her shot-making and both her forehand and backhand strokes… I think Anna has a lot of potential as well. I hope the girls come out over the summer and do everything they can to get ready for next season.”