There are two kinds of high school tennis programs, says North Central girls coach Jack Shagool: those with club players and those without.
“We’re one of the teams without,” he said.
Shagool’s plight exemplifies the Greater Spokane League, which is divided by the haves and have-nots.
Certain teams, including Mead, annually dominate competition. The others struggle, including North Side schools Shadle Park, NC and Rogers.
The Mead Panthers tied for second last year with a 6-2 league record. Among them, the other three won a total of three league matches.
“When we can’t play outside,” said Rogers Coach Barb Henderson, “there is no practice. Mead goes to North Park Racquet Club.”
Thus the rich will get richer when the GSL season begins April 11.
Mead could use doubles help
Mead returns a state veteran singles player and two players who just missed in doubles.
But the Panthers are not deep, which will make contending for a league title difficult.
“We have four strong returning players, and it’s a toss-up after that,” said Coach Al Rettmann.
State veteran and returning league champion Amy Fong leads the way.
“A couple of other girls will give her good matches, but she should be pretty strong,” said Rettmann.
Completing the singles lineup are seniors Mandi Vaughn, Kelli Kaiser and Jill Wallach.
The doubles team of junior Marie Gallagher and senior Jodi Snell is set.
“The others are up in the air,” said Rettmann. “We have a bunch of freshmen and sophomores who are pretty athletic, but they don’t have much tennis experience.”
They’ll determine how well Mead matches up with defending champion Ferris and co-runner-up University.
Shadle Park seeks to move up
The Highlanders have a new coach, Spokane Tennis Association President Donna Lenseigne, who would like to at least emulate last year’s 2-6 season.
“I’m hoping we can at least duplicate last year if not be in the middle of the pack,” she said.
Shadle has 34 girls out. Only one, doubles player Monet Lee, is a senior.
The top four singles players are currently freshman Becky Trefts and sophomores Dani Harwood, Robin Bursell and Krista Edwards.
Doubles players include sophomore Katie Boileau, junior identical twins Amber and Briana Gutierrez, and juniors Jen Rinehart and Lindsey Booth.
Also on varsity is sophomore Melissa Carter.
All but Booth lettered last year.
“They have a lot of enthusiasm, but enthusiasm doesn’t win matches,” said Lenseigne, who didn’t cut anyone. “I just want them to play tennis.”
North Central eyes GSL middle third
The Indians will build around half a dozen returnees and some promising newcomers.
“Our goal, realistically,” said Shagool, “is to try to finish in the middle third, which we’ve usually done.”
Two-year letter winner Daria Anderson and junior Heather Leaming will compete for the top two singles spots. NC’s No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Sarah Menard and junior Hydro Greenwood also returns, along with senior Jenny Wills.
She will team with junior newcomer Aimee Wilson.
Other prospects are juniors TsueiLan Sun, Laura Morgan and Nicole De Lozier, freshman Katerina Straub, senior Sumitra Hallam and junior Courtney Virden.
Rogers instilling lifetime interest
Henderson, who has coached tennis at Rogers as well as Lewis and Clark, returns to the girls sport this year.
Like Shadle’s Highlanders, the Pirates have a large turnout: 31 girls.
All but 10 have not played before. Henderson is excited nonetheless.
“I truly believe tennis is a lifetime sport,” she said. “My goal is I want them to fall in love with it and play forever and ever.”
Senior Kelli Kreuch is the current No. 1 player, but senior class president Jennifer Heckler and Daniela Papperella are determined to supplant her. Chanci Lavin is another singles prospect.
Battling for doubles berths are seniors Heidi Littlefield and Jenny Borders, juniors Rachel Schell and Carrie Kittilstved and sophomore Anne Courtney.