LOGAN — “We’re young,” Logan Lady Chiefs tennis coach Mike Derr says with a smile.
You can add one more word to that statement: inexperienced. No one on the 2008 roster has ever played a varsity singles match.
All three returning varsity letter-winners played doubles last fall and, in all likelihood, will do so again this season. Three girls who combined for
a 44-11 singles record last season have either graduated or departed.
Logan opens its season Wednesday morning against visiting Jackson at the Hilltop tennis courts with a roster of girls looking to gain as much court experience as they can get.
Senior Hannah Elhard, junior Callie Zeisler and sophomore Molly Webb — all of whom played doubles last fall — are the lone varsity holdovers, and needless to say Derr will lean heavily upon them.
“Molly and Callie, and Hannah and Trisha (Patel) will play doubles,” Derr said. “Our strength will be in doubles and hopefully we can pull out some singles wins. We’ll win some matches, but this is a rebuilding year. Still, we’ve come a long way from where we started just a couple weeks ago.”
Selena Sadler is the only other senior on the roster, which also includes juniors Patel, Jamie McKinley, Jenna Moore, Tessa Tudor, Rachael Vermillion, Chelsea Rayburn and Chelsea Runge and sophomores Jen Hoag and Abbie Linton.
Derr said Sadler, Moore, Hoag and McKinley are the top candidates to take the singles positions, but the competition is pretty open.
“The inexperience is going to hurt us, but I look for them to improve this year and get ready for next year,” Derr said. “We haven’t got as many matches this season, and I’d rather use the practice time to get them ready.”
Exchange student Fabiana Bachem — the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League North Division’s most valuable player and a Division I district tournament qualifier — is back in her home country after a standout season in which she went 18-2 overall and won all seven of her conference matches.
Fellow singles netters Shannon Clay (13-5), a four-year letter-winner, and two-year letter-winner Emily Meyer (13-4) have graduated. Doubles players Tessa Hammon (three letters) and Morgan Mays (two) are also gone as well; Mays graduated and Hammon didn’t come out for the team this fall.
Bachem, Clay and Meyer scored the bulk of Logan’s victories as the Lady Chiefs compiled one of the school’s all-time best girls tennis seasons last fall.
The Lady Chiefs went 13-3 overall and finished in third place in the league after placing second in the North Division and defeating Portsmouth in the SEOAL “Day of Champions” third-place match.
After losing their season opener to Zanesville Rosecrans, the 2007 Lady Chiefs reeled off 13 wins in their last 15 matches, losing only a pair of narrow 3-2 decisions to eventual North Division champion Marietta along the way.
South Division champion Chillicothe is the two-time defending league champion.
With the departure of Athens, the SEOAL North Division consists only of Logan, Marietta and Zanesville in girls tennis, meaning the Lady Chiefs play only four regular-season conference matches. Chillicothe, Ironton, Jackson and Portsmouth comprise the South Division.
And when Zanesville leaves the league after the current school year, perennial championship favorite Chillicothe takes the Lady Blue Devils’ place in the North Division next fall.
“This season is going to be a learning experience,” Derr said. “I’m happy with how the girls are coming along. They’ve already made a lot of improvement.
“As long as they give me all they have,” he added, “and as long as they learn from their mistakes, I can’t ask any more of them.”