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Girls ‘tennis: new faces, new hope for Ottumwa girls’ tennis | Sport




OTTUMWA A clean slate.

That’s what Leanna White has in store for her on her way to a brand new Ottumwa High School girls tennis season. Aside from four returning seniors who last competed for the Bulldogs as underclassmen in Spring 2019, much is unknown about what to expect from the 23 players who will make up White’s roster in 2021.

“We have a full roster and a full 12-game schedule, but we haven’t even really split the varsity and junior varsity yet,” said White. “We’re even going to let some challenge games decide some of those positions this year. We have a level playing field and we need some help deciding who plays in specific positions.”

Ally Paris, Faith Thomas, Josie Vonderhaar and Josie Young are the only seniors listed on the current OHS girls tennis roster with any varsity experience. Paris and Thomas finished fourth in the Class 2A regional doubles tournament as sophomores, marking the second consecutive season that the two competed in the varsity doubles competition while holding the top two singles places in Ottumwa’s last tennis season.

Young and Vonderhaar, meanwhile, each saw limited varsity experience as a sophomore. The rest of the roster will learn along the way, with several members of the starting varsity lineup likely taking the field for the first time in competition with the 2020 season wiping out due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just started challenge games this week, so literally every spot on our squad is up for grabs,” said White. “Ally will probably be our front runner going into the season after competing as a sophomore in the top singles and doubles matches. We really have to find some people for the rest of the singles spots. I’m definitely looking for some people to stand up for doubles. It comes down to who works well together and who has the skills that fit well There is a lot to consider when forming your doubles teams.

Ottumwa opens the all-new girls tennis season at Fairfield on Tuesday, April 6, facing a Trojan team returning 2019 Class 1A state singles champion Yana Gaskell. The Bulldogs will also challenge themselves this year by playing in two new tournaments, both at Fort Madison and Pella, as well as the annual early season trip to the Top Gun Tournament in Waterloo.

“I expect a lot of growth from our team throughout the season. I’ve seen a lot of growth early in the preseason,” said White. “In tennis, everyone can play excellently every day. The sky is the limit for us. The learning curve is going to be huge for us this year. As long as we see growth and experience, I think we can consider this. A successful season.”

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