Strength in numbers once again figures to be the winning strategy for the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls tennis team. While top singles players like senior Claire Wilson and sophomore Victoria Bojovic undeniably possess plenty of individual talent, head coach Bob Hegner believes the Bulldogs by committee approach always helps ensure a successful season.
“One characteristic of a typical RB girls tennis team is that we don’t have a lot of stars,” Hegner said. “Our depth throughout the lineup really helps us win matches. Our No. 4 players are usually as good or comparable to our No. 1’s so we usually pick up wins at the bottom of our lineup.”
Wilson, who continually dealt with injuries and opted for doubles last season, returns for her final high school season eager to resume singles action.
“It was tough last year because I couldn’t really move my feet as much,” Wilson said. “This year I’m feeling much better and focusing on my footwork. I’m good to go and I’m always positive about our team no matter what happens on the court.”
A major cause for optimism regarding the RB program is the plethora of younger players on the rise. Bojovic is a very talented sophomore player primed to bolster the singles rotation after a baptism by fire freshman campaign.
“It was different being on the varsity as a freshman,” she said. “I’m just focused on moving my feet, getting more balls in, and maintaining my focus during practice and matches. I play a lot of tennis during the offseason so I feel very confident about this season.”
Wilson and Bojovic are both solid baseline players intent on playing a consistent, high-margin style of play.
Junior Nina Dorenbos, a skilled doubles player, and freshman Carli Wilson (Claire’s younger sister) are other players pegged to see action in singles competition.
In addition to Dorenbos, Isis Galindo, Riki Matous, Rebecca Rusiecki, Matea Zaper, Mary Penckofer, Gabriella Bova and Kristin Tomecek round out the doubles rotation. Galindo and Matous is the projected No. 1 team but all the tandems could move up and down the lineup.
RB should be competitive in the Metro Suburban Conference, which is likely their best and only chance to bring home a title. With Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township annually dominating the sectional, the Bulldogs’ hopes for qualifying any players for state is essentially nonexistent.
“With those two schools in our sectional, it’s such a lost cause,” Hegner said. “There’s really not much we can do about it. When we went to Oak Park-River Forest for sectionals we used to have a chance, but now Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township typically take seven of the eight spots for state from our sectional. That leaves one position for all the other schools.”
A much more interesting and suspenseful proposition for Hegner is to see how well the Bulldogs perform within league competition.
“Honestly, it’s hard to tell,” Hegner said regarding his team’s outlook. “I don’t like coaches who use youth as an excuse, but I’m just not sure about our team at this point because we have a pretty young group.”
While the bulk of the Bulldogs’ roster still has several seasons to come, the experienced Wilson hopes to galvanize the team into realizing its potential.
“I’m really excited the season since it’s my senior year,” she said. “I’m hoping that we do well and win as many matches as we can.”
The Bulldogs kicked off the season in winning fashion, defeating Willowbrook 4-2 as all four RB doubles team notched victories. The junior varsity 1 and 2 teams combined to earn a comfortable 10-2 win against Addison Trail.