Girls Tennis: Lady Hubs ready to step up this fall

Senior Ruth Gardner prepares to serve during tennis practice on Thursday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

McMurray, Gardner headline returning varsity players

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle varsity girls tennis team has stocked up on young talent over the last two seasons, and the Lady Hubs are looking to cash in their growth on the court for more wins in the book when the purple and white open the 2019 season at home against Rockford Lutheran on Monday, Aug. 26.

“I’m excited about being in a new conference and facing new competition,” senior Caitlin McMurray said. “It was definitely a new experience starting tennis my sophomore year and playing varsity my junior year… I want to work on the basics and getting better at those skills. I’ve definitely seen the new players improve a lot from not being able to hit the ball.”

The Lady Hubs are scheduled to play their first-ever Interstate Eight Conference match against Ottawa on Sept. 3. The Lady Hubs will be hungry for more victories after combining to finish 1-30 since 2017. McMurray and senior Ruth Gardner return as Rochelle’s most experienced varsity singles players.

“I’m excited to see how we play in our matches and how far we’ve all come since our first practice,” Gardner said. “I feel like I’ve come far from where I was my sophomore year, and I think we’ve been better at communicating with each other and knowing where the ball is and when to go after it. I’m hoping we can communicate better and get our forehands and backhands down this season.”

Several doubles players including juniors Melanie Gonzalez and Sawyer McGee are back on the court this fall. Sophomores Jordin Dickey and MeLisa Young are also suiting up after earning varsity reps during the 2018 campaign. The purple and white will play in three tournaments at Harlem, Princeton and Rochelle before the I-8 Conference and IHSA Class 1A Regional meets.

“It’s a lot of fun being out here since I’ve made a lot of new friends on the team,” Gonzalez said. “The players coming back have definitely improved over the summer, and the new players are doing the best they can to learn how we do things. We have a lot of potential to do well this year. We’re definitely more confident on our hits and we have more confidence in ourselves.”

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