Last year, the Lyons Township girls tennis team earned second place in conference and sectional play and ninth place at state, but five may be the most exciting number entering this campaign. That's exactly the number of outstanding players LT head coach Bill Wham will have at his disposal to compete for the team's goals of winning conference, sectional and state titles.
Wham's "fab five" includes sophomore Elise Woulfe, freshman Tina Harizan, senior Annie French, senior Jamie Reisch and her sister, Erica, a junior.
"A lot of teams have maybe one or two very good players but that's it," Wham said. "Our depth is good. The players relate well to each other and it's encouraging to see a strong team concept already in place."
With a roster of 14 players, the Lions possess versatility, depth and experience, but will likely only go as far as their top five players take them. Here's a breakdown of each player.
Woulfe, coming off a 24-11 record as a freshman and a busy summer playing tournaments in Indianapolis, Winston-Salem and San Diego, will be the Lions' No. 1 singles player. She is the team's most consistent performer and has improved her serve, according to Wham.
"I like to mix it up," Woulfe said about her game. "I always want to keep my opponent guessing by hitting a variety of shots. This should be a great season for us. We're all focused on doing our best and playing well."
Like Woulfe, Harizan also played around the country this summer and will make an immediate impact for Lyons Township. Primarily a baseline player with good court sense, she is a ranked player in the Midwest.
"I'm excited about this year," Harizan said. "We're a pretty sound team and should do well."
Jamie Reisch, a four-year varsity player, is a baseline counter puncher who can also serve and volley at net. Health may be the key to her senior season. Reisch has been dealing with tendinitis in her arm and potentially some back problems.
"We lost some players, but there are a lot of newcomers as well," Reisch said. "Coming out here as a team, it's a different vibe than from playing in the summer. We'll see who is going to step it up this season."
Erica Reisch will play singles and doubles, and French, one of the team's taller players at 6-foot, is an aggressive player with a big serve. Gretchen Nyberg, a talented junior, will play doubles.
The Lions should battle Hinsdale Central and possibly Oak Park for the West Suburban (Silver) Conference title this season. Hinsdale Central, defending conference champion, defeated the Lions 4-3 in dual meet competition last year and is also loaded with young talent.
"It should come down to Hinsdale Central and us for the conference," Wham said. "We don't want to peak in August or September. The goal is to be playing our best tennis in October."