Most coaches would probably rest on their laurels, but most coaches aren’t Lyons Township tennis coach Bill Wham.
Wham enters his seventh year as coach of the LT girls team and he is accustomed to winning. Considering the team finished last season with a 12-2 dual-match record, went 5-1 in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference-finishing second only to state champion Hinsdale Central-Wham’s lofty aspirations become a bit more understandable. The Lions also took 19th in the state, but Wham expects even more from his team this year.
“We can be a top 10 team in the state, but we are not there yet,” he said. “If we play average we can be top a 15 team. I know we will lose some matches in the beginning of the season, but I think the kids have good goals and I think we will be ready as long as they focus.”
Wham’s team has changed little from last year, losing just one starter to graduation. So, his prediction of another year of great tennis shouldn’t be too far off. The season is still young, so Wham has not etched his lineup in stone, but he has a good idea who his top players will be. At singles, junior Elise Woulfe, sophomore Tina Harrazin will play one and two, respectively. But come sectional time, Wham will most likely combine Woulfe and Harrazin as a formidable doubles team. Sophomore Hadely Burke, senior Erica Reisch, freshman Stephanie Eastman and senior Gretchen Nyberg all will play singles as well.
“My main focus right now is to get them in the right spots and get them to play well,” Wham said. “We want to get balance and have some flexibility. Our goal is to maintain our position in the conference and then see if we can sneak up on Hinsdale (Central) at the sectional.”
Sneak is the operative word, considering Hinsdale Central has eight nationally ranked players in its lineup. Still, playing such a talented team only makes the Lions stronger, according to Wham. But LT has its own gifted stable of players, with Woulfe and Harrazin also garnering national rankings as well.
As for doubles, freshman Alexis Reisch and juniors Jessica Ignarski, Kirston Conrad, Janet Brown and Katie Chilton will be expected to anchor the team.
“It’s funny because we have a young team and our strength is sophomores and juniors,” Wham said. “We are actually pretty solid right now, but I’d like to be real strong by the end of the regular season. I’m treating this team like a retail store … I am going to base this year’s success on last year and go from there.”