Tennis team to lean on seniors this season

Senior leadership certainly shouldn’t be a problem for the Monticello girls’ tennis team during the 2017 campaign.

Monti features a bevy of seniors on its varsity roster, including five returners from last season’s lineup. In at least one early season matchup this summer, Monti put forth a lineup consisting entirely of senior players.

Coach Jeff Bordwell said it was the first time he’s done that in his tennis coaching career.

Within that lineup, though, there are still a lot of moving parts. Monti is still trying to decide who fits at singles, who fits at doubles, and where they should be slotted within each setting.

“We’re trying to find out what our best lineup is to get those seven points,” said Bordwell, referring to the seven total matches played during each team contest.

The five girls that return after being stalwarts in last year’s varsity lineup are: Grace Schillewaert, Chloe Leach, Lexi Dockendorf, Hannah Daniels, and Gina Bourgeois.

Schillewaert started this season at No. 4 singles, the same place she ended last season, but the other four are starting in dramatically different places.

After finishing last year as the team’s top doubles paring, Dockendorf and Leach were split up to start this year and entered the season as the team’s top two singles players. Meanwhile, Daniels and Bourgeois stayed in tact as a doubles team, but were moved from the No. 3 pairing to the No. 1 spot.
Bordwell said that is a big jump to make, but that the duo should benefit from some great chemistry.

“They’ve played together for as long as they’ve been playing tennis,” he said. “They’ll be fine once we get further into the season.”

Monti has already done some lineup juggling as well, as they’ve played six matches prior to the start of school. In one of their most recent contests, they paired Dockendorf and Leach back up at No. 1 doubles, sliding Daniels and Bourgeois back to No. 2, while pushing Megan Rousslang and Schillewaert up to the No. 1 and 2 singles players.

Rousslang has been a bright spot in the early going for Monticello, picking up wins in both of her first two matches this season.

“She’s doing a really nice job,” said Bordwell. “She’s very consistent. Keeps the ball in play.”
Other players who have cracked the early season lineup for Monti include seniors Brooke Haag, Kaitlyn Hellman, Emily Wickman, and Annabelle Arns; juniors Samantha Rose, Shay Baxter-Knutson, and Eileen Mavencamp; and sophomore Alayna Jones.

Monti, which sits at 1-5 in the early going with a 5-2 win against Blaine in the season opener, now has more than a week off before it enters the conference season.

Bordwell said the way the schedule sets up, with Monti playing a handful of matches and then getting more than a week straight of practice, is very favorable.

“It turns out to be great for us,” he said. “We’ve seen a whole host of matches and now we can work on some things we need to work on.”

Monticello returns to action Tuesday, Sept. 5 when it travels to Big Lake for a 4 p.m. conference match. Monti will be back home on Saturday, Sept. 9 when it hosts a triangular, beginning at 9 a.m., with Becker and Willmar.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]