When a freshman wins a Class 5A state title in girls singles, it might be easy to rest on laurels heading into a new year.
That’s not the case for Bridget Stammel and the Highland Park tennis team. Besides Stammel, the team returns a stellar roster of girls including the duos of Annika Juergens and Lizann Boyer, and Nell Covington and Cambelle Henderson.
All told, the Scots return the top six girls players from last year’s state championship run, all with the goal of a fourth straight team tennis state championship in 2019.
“We have a very deep team on the girls’ side, and we expect our two senior captains – Annika and Nell – to lead the squad throughout the year,” said Dan Holden, Highland Park tennis coach.
Since 2001, Highland Park has captured 15 state titles, including a stretch of seven straight from 2008 through 2014 and a current streak of three straight. Last year’s team run was especially impressive: The Scots finished with a 23-0 record and lost only two individual matches during the playoffs.
How dominant is the tennis program at Highland Park? The mixed doubles teams of Cole Burnam and Katherine Petty, and Rhett Bailey and Ashlee Newton faced each other in the state semifinals last year. Burnam and Petty emerged the victors.
The girls side also has a group of much-improved athletes that Holden expects will contribute to the varsity squad this season: juniors Lucy Tilden and Christiane Mandes, along with sophomore Isabella McElfresh, are expected to make a big splash on the squad in 2019.
Holden said that, aside from the state tournament, he has his eyes on a couple of 6A opponents that his Scots will face this season.
“We’ve always got a challenge with Plano West and Allen,” he said. “They are both top-five 6A teams in the state.”
Challenges like those – against teams in a higher classification – will get the Scots ready for the state tournaments against the best 5A teams in the state. And, of course, the goal is always the same for Holden in late October.
“As always, we have the goal and expectation of winning a team tennis state championship,” he said.