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Thursday, March 22, 2018

2018 Highlands Tennis Previews

Bluebirds Tennis Teams Aim for More Success

Contributed Photo. Members of the Highlands Boys Tennis Team pose after a recent match. There are 20 members on the squad this year.
Contributed Photo. The Highlands girls tennis team has 29 members this year.
The Highlands Bluebirds tennis teams had been dominating the 10th Region in recent seasons.

That changed last season as both teams finished region runner-up. Campbell County captured the boys region crown and Mason County won the girls.

Highlands Head Coach Kris Laskey welcomes 29 girls and 20 boys onto the courts this year. It's just a matter of finding the right combinations to go with the experienced varsity players in order for Bluebirds to turn out another successful season. Laskey said the doubles teams will be formed as the season progresses.

The Highlands boys graduated four solid seniors in Colin Rizzo, Jeffrey Schenk, Connor Millard and Logan Harned. The Highlands girls graduated twins Jana and Jenna Riffe. Mia Smith also decided not to return this season. Schenk and freshman Peter Laskey captured the 10th Region doubles crown last year.

Aside from Peter Laskey, the Bluebird boys return junior Jacob Schuh and sophomore Jackson Hopper. Peter Laskey and Hopper have been playing singles and Schuh has played doubles. Candidates to fill in some other roles are senior Caleb Chambers, freshman Matthew Erickson, Josf Finseth, eighth-grader Jacob Clifton and seventh-graders John Laskey and Ben Schuh.

"It's been really fun to see their efforts and their abilities with just a few weeks of pre-season under their belts," Coach Laskey said. "That's hopefully a good thing of better things to come as the weather warms up and we'll be getting some good tennis weather."

On the girls' side, senior Brooke Hodory has been playing singles and junior Elizabeth Schwalbach has been playing doubles like last year. Schwalbach and Jana Riffe won their first match at the state tournament before losing in the round of 32 and claiming runner-up honors in the region tournament. The top four singles players and doubles teams in each region advance to state. Other players looking to fill in the Highlands line-up are senior Ashtyn Heiert, freshman Rachel Hoffman and eighth-graders Olivia Hoffman, Helen Halbauer and Cece Shick.

So far the Highlands girls are 2-0 coming off a 4-1 win over Campbell County on Monday. The Bluebird boys are 2-1 after beating Scott, 5-0 Monday.

"It's sort of nice when they get tested early to see how they respond not only to their opponents, but to each other because you definitely have to have a good working relationship," Coach Laskey said. "You have to know where your partner is going to be. It's a short enough season that have to start making some good calculations early on and if it doesn't look like it's going to work shirt somebody else in there and just try different pairings. I think we have a lot of good players to choose from and they're all willing to play pretty much wherever I put them on both teams. If they're good players, they can play singles or doubles."

The cold weather has made matches tough to play so far. But the next one on the schedule is Friday. The Highlands girls are slated to face Dixie Heights at 3:30 p.m.

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