These senior girls have been here before.
It's late April and a zero again shows up in the loss column for the Oldenburg Academy Lady Twisters' tennis team.
Following a 5-0 senior-night drubbing of visiting Southwestern Shelbyville Tuesday (April 23), OA's 12th-grade quartet of Stephanie Gray, Claire Hollingsworth, Hanna Hurm and Sarah Preston are an integral part of a 10-0 squad currently ranked 4th in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association District 8 poll.
"They've had so many great times, but it wasn't only tennis," said head coach Mark Wilder of his veterans. "They've been such great role models for our younger girls and their grades are unbelievable.
"As I said (before the match), what I like most is they're just really nice and do things the right way all the time," he added. "I’ll often have opponents or opponents’ parents come up to me and say (the same). Those four definitely embodied that, and it’s probably what I’m most proud of as both a coach and parent.”
Hurm and Preston have been doubles partners their entire Twister careers, so walking off with their 6-1, 6-2 win over Hailey Bowman and Abby Marshall was certainly no new experience.
That victory followed Gray and Hollingsworth’s 6-0, 6-0 wipeout of Shelbi Guy and Sydney Ebersold at No. 2 doubles. Wilder inserted Gray into the varsity rotation due to the occasion. However, GiGi Dreyer – who defeated Emma Engel 6-0 in junior varsity action – will resume her spot with Hollingsworth next time out.
“We’re settling in at No. 2 doubles and No. 3 singles (Alexa Miles), but we’re lucky enough to have nine players with a lot of parity,” said the coach. “It’s probably the most balance we’ve had in my 10 years. That’s nice to have options in case someone gets injured.”
It was Miles who clinched the team win Tuesday, posting a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Kyla Robertson.
Kathryn Wilder, meanwhile, was having no troubles with Jenna Kuntz at the top singles court. She exited the match with a 6-0, 6-1 win.
Sarah Price finished up the shutout with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Abby Sweet.
“Some of it is a function of us and some of it is a function of our level of opponent, so we need to keep that in perspective,” Wilder said of the unbeaten mark, adding there are stiffer tests on the upcoming schedule.
“But so far the girls are playing great,” he went on. “We like them to play with movement and good communication … I think we’re on track.”
In one other JV singles match, freshman Emma Back defeated Engel 6-1.
Oldenburg hopes to continue its momentum to a sectional title in May, followed by yet another regional championship. The latter would make it five consecutive for the program and four in a row for the current seniors.
But the Twisters aren’t taking any success for granted.
“We’ll be pushed over the next few weeks,” said Wilder. “Of course we want to repeat what we’ve done. We like our matchups of who we could potentially see in (postseason). I don’t know if this is the year we break through at the state level, but if we keep knocking on the door, that could come at some point.
“I told the girls if everyone can improve between 10 and 15 percent, that would show how good we can collectively be.”
OA faces Brown County Monday evening.
Will Fehlinger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 112.