MHS tennis team to put improved program to Valley test

Coaches- Jennifer Heitz (3rd, head), Julie Post (3rd, asst.).
Last season’s accomplishments- 10-8 duals, 2nd at subsectionals, 3rd with 4-1 GNC record.
Major losses- none.
Key returnees- Olivia Heitz (11, sect. qual., AC HM, 13-8), Liz Smith (11, sect. qual., AC 2nd Team, 14-10), Hannah Ollhoff (11, AC HM, 16-6), Kristen Verdoorn (11, AC 2nd, 9-12), Marissa Wilde (12), Ellen Donner (12), Dani Teske (12), Katie Harvey (12), Marissa Bartz (11), Kelsey Pintens (11), Marie Renaud (12), Sarah Altman (12), Sarah Hanson (12).
Promising newcomers- Aly Brandvold, Leah Johnson, Karina Baacke.
Heitz quotable- “The tennis team is looking forward to returning to the Valley Conference, and has been preparing for the step-up in match play. We have high expectations for the season with all of our team returning. We are hoping to finish in the top 3 of the valley and hoping to advance several players to sectionals. I believe we can advance multiple players to sectionals, and hopefully to state.
“One of our goals is to finish in the top 3 of the valley, and we are striving for the top. With our strong showing last year and our team’s varsity experience, we should be very competitive in every match. We are off to a strong start, with a 10-2 dual record so far.
“The conference is wide-open, with several teams in the conference losing a number of their key players to graduation. I believe that Marshfield is the team to beat, though, since they have been to state the past two years as a team, and have a lot of experienced players as well. I’ve also learned that Wausau East has a number of new players that are strong. They will be a team to watch.
“We have a very strong singles line-up, all the way through. The singles players have all had more than one year of varsity experience, and they are all juniors. We have a solid #1 doubles team, and we are working on our other doubles teams to find solid match-ups. I believe they will be very competitive in match-play. I am also excited about the future of Merrill tennis with so many talented underclassmen.
“Two years ago, the tennis team won their first match in 3 years. Last year we were 10-8 in dual matches. I am looking to improve on last’s seasons record, and truly believe that we can finish even stronger this year.
“I appreciate the focus and determination amongst the players. Many of them have worked hard off-season to improve their game, and they came into the season mentally and physically prepared to play. I also appreciate the growing sense of confidence amongst the team. One of my favorite things is when I see the girls put into play what we have been drilling at practice. It’s really fun to see all of the hard work pay off.
“They believe that any team can win on any given day, and they are proud to show the Valley that Merrill has worked hard to become a very competitive tennis team.”

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