LOGAN — Having zero seniors on the roster one season usually means having plenty of experience the next.
That next season is here for the Logan Lady Chiefs’ tennis team, which opens its 2019 campaign Thursday at Unioto with most of its lineup intact from a team that went 4-13 playing juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
But just because seven girls with a combined total of 11 varsity letters’ worth of experience return, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are 100 percent assured of 100 percent of the playing time.
Having such experience “is really nice,” said Logan coach Robbie Ball, starting his second season at the helm of the Lady Chiefs. “It’s definitely going to help with leadership because we have four or five freshmen this year. That’s a big group of freshmen.
“We’re pretty much going to pick up where we left off last year with the varsity lineup,” he continued, “but I definitely see some new faces getting playing time.”
There are still only two seniors — two-year letter-winners Jazmin Kessler and Samantha Mustard — and juniors Rachel Vogt and Selena Zheng return having won a pair of varsity letters as well. Juniors Addy Clement, Emily Clifton and Carmen Shuttleworth are back with one varsity letter apiece.
Vogt played No. 1 singles last fall and Kessler was a singles player as well while Zheng, Shuttleworth, Mustard, Clifton and Clement were usually on doubles teams and also saw occasional singles action.
They are joined by junior Sarah Perera, sophomores Faith Anderson, Arizona Hamm and Maisey Russell and freshmen Hannah Marcum, Madachi Roberts, Lily Sauer and Brooklyn Wilson.
One underclassman with two years’ worth of varsity experience, Amber Bryant, did not return.
“If we can continue with those sort of numbers,” Ball said, “I can see this program continuing in the right direction, especially with the Chieftain Center getting done. That’s going to open things up as far as playing in the winter and hopefully we can take that next step.
“I don’t expect my players to travel to Columbus or other places to play in the winter,” he added. “With this I can do it myself, and that’s how I prefer it.”
All that returning experience will come into play in a number of ways.
“With everyone back so far as the varsity lineup, even if we didn’t have any new people we’re going to have people with experience,” Ball noted. “I do see a few people getting some varsity playing time who are brand-new to tennis. I have some people who decided to come out for the team who are definitely good athletes.”
And with his returning players already having a season under Ball’s guidance, it will make a difference when it comes to preparation and knowing what is expected.
“For sure,” Ball said. “This is the second go-round for the girls having me as head coach and that’s huge. They know how I run things and they know what I expect. Some of the learning curves we had last year I don’t expect this year.
“Simple things, like how the first 15 minutes of practice goes, the returning girls can take care of that with the new girls,” he added. “I don’t necessarily have to take time to go over those sort of things.”
The Lady Chiefs currently have 19 matches on their schedule. They take on Zanesville in their first home match Saturday at the Logan High School courts and face Circleville at home (Tuesday) and venture to Vinton County (Thursday) next week.