Highland girls tennis team doesn’t intend to slow down
Aug 20, 2019 11h46
By Josh McFadden
Highland’s tennis team finished fifth in Class 5A last season. (Photo courtesy Jeanine Elsholz)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
It wasn’t long ago that the Highland girls tennis team was struggling to be competitive. Now, the Rams are aiming for championships.
Highland placed second in Region 6 last season and came in fifth in the Class 5A state tournament. With their top two singles players back, head coach Jeanine Elsholz believes her squad will be even better this year. First singles Dylan Lolofie, a sophomore, and second singles competitor Sophie Hastings, a junior, will lead the team. Elsholz said they are two of the best players in the state.
“They play a lot of matches throughout the year and are veteran players even at their young age,” she said of the two standouts.
Sophomore Kate Creamer and junior Abby Bradford also have varsity experience. Elsholz was still solidifying the lineup in early August, but freshmen Lucy Foulks and Samantha Kiburtz had already secured spots on the varsity squad. Elsholz is impressed with their talents. She also is looking forward to seeing which senior—Emma Thomas or Janie Ontiveros emerge as the other varsity starter.
Maintaining strong play throughout the year in every match can be difficult. Elsholz said in order for the team to contend for a region title, each girl must zero in on her responsibilities and not look past the task at hand.
“This season will be a success if we can stay focused and give our best effort during every single match,” she said. “Sometimes it is easy during matches to let down a little bit and lose focus. My goal is to help our team play at their highest ability level in every match throughout the season.”
Girls tennis has become a big draw at Highland. This year, Elsholz had 60 girls come tryout for the team. She doesn’t cut any of the players, so the squad has an abundance of options. Elsholz has a wide variety of experience levels on her team, along with 30 new girls (18 freshmen, five transfers and seven upperclassmen who are playing tennis for the first time).
“They have already added so much to the culture and feel of our team,” Elsholz said. “We have new girls coming in at every ability level and their presence has been felt in a very positive way on and off the court. I have also been surprised at how many good players we have. Some of our returning players have improved quite a bit from last season but are playing lower on the team than they were a year ago. Several of the new players have stepped in and taken varsity and JV spots.”
Elsholz has high expectations for the girls, but she is eager to see how they perform this season. Not only are the girls working hard on the court, but Elsholz said they get along well and genuinely love spending time together.
“I am expecting a fun season as well as a successful one,” she said. “I feel truly fortunate to be able to coach so many amazing girls, and I am very excited about the upcoming season.”