Lady 'Canes hope tougher schedule will pay dividends
Marian Central Catholic High School girls tennis coach Ginny Larsen has been trying for years to get a harder schedule for her team because she believes it will benefit them when the team reaches the end of the season. Her efforts have finally paid off.
“We’ve been fighting forever to play Crystal Lake South and Cary-Grove, and this year we are in tournaments both schools are hosting, which I am so excited about, but it will be tough,” Larson said. “We want to play better competition. When you play lower level talent, you feel like you are king of the mountain. Getting to play the opponent before we play them at sectionals is crucial.”
The Lady ’Canes also will play tough competition in the Crystal Lake Central quad, Vernon Hills tournament and Maine South tournament.
“Those matches will really be telling for us,” Larsen said.
The Lady ’Canes are 4-1 as of Aug. 30, with their only loss to Chicago Christian.
“The hardest part for us is starting our schedule off with teams whose skill levels are a little easier, and then you play a school like Chicago Christian and it gets interesting,” Larsen said.
Sophomore Abby Waters, younger sister of Marian state qualifiers Riley and Aaron, is the No. 1 singles player.
Larsen said she believes Waters can have the same success as her brothers.
“Abby just needs to believe in herself a bit more and that comes with maturity,” she said. “She is still only a sophomore.”
Seniors Sara Quinlan and Alyssa Melchiona are the No. 1 doubles team and co-captains. They are 7-0 as of Aug. 30, and Larsen said she is extremely happy with them on and off the court.
“The No. 1 doubles team is pretty good and getting better the more they play with each other,” she said. “They’ve been fabulous. I couldn’t have asked for better captains.”
The No. 2 singles player is senior Hayley Frahm; the No. 2 doubles team is junior Kaitlin Pinter and senior Alex Sledz; and the No. 3 doubles team is senior Jessie Gallimore and junior Ashley Graf.
Quinlan, who organized getting the team new uniforms this summer, said she is very happy with the team but recognizes they lack varsity experience.
“I think we are very strong as a team,” Quinlan said. “I love playing with everybody. Everybody show up to practice on time and gives all their effort. We have really bonded together well. … We lack varsity experience so we will just have to keep working hard.”
What the Lady ’Canes lack in varsity experience, Larsen said they make up for in athletic ability.
“The girls I have playing are fairly consistent,” Larsen said. “They are athletic, they are good players and they will win matches. We are lacking a bit in varsity experience. A lot of the girls were not part of the starting eight last year. They need to learn a little more mental toughness. They are great girls and they are so coachable.
“We always want to finish above .500. I would love for us to come in the top three in conference. … I am really hoping for some state qualifiers this year.”
The rest of the roster includes senior Malika Gehant and juniors Megan Bloom, Gabi Garrelts, Lori Lowenheim and Megan Mink.