Girls tennis preview: Changes abound; Whittaker hasn't ruled out return

Matt Windy filling in for now; plus, a preview of the other teams in the area. 

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 4:43 p.m.

A handful of coaching changes, including a couple unusual twists, are peppering area girls tennis heading into the 2014 season, but there's still nothing among those other changes that trumps the surreality that this season's going to go on without Dave Whittaker.

Now, though, there's even a twist to that change, as Whittaker has not ruled out returning for one final year next fall with the Elkhart Central boys and the following spring with the girls.

"It's a decision I'm putting on hold," Whittaker said Monday, April 7. "It's going to be a long haul getting back to where I want to be, and I've got to worry about (health) first, but I'm going to talk with (my wife) Debbi, and we'll go from there."

Whittaker, who owns more wins than any coach in any sets of sports in Central history with 528, declared 10 days ago that he was "done" coaching after undergoing heart surgery on March 24.

On Monday, Whittaker, 64, reiterated that he will indeed remain out for this spring, and that he is giving up the summer parks tennis program that he's headed for 37 years, but he left the door open to a one-year high school return in 2014-15.

Whittaker said his decision is not imminent, but that he will let Central officials know "at least a couple weeks before" practice begins next fall.

Meanwhile, other coaches are hoping for the best, whatever Whittaker decides, while still trying to grasp the concept that he won't be around this spring, marking the first time in 27 years on the girls side.

"He's somebody who needs to be submitted for the coaches' association hall of fame whenever that time does come," Northridge coach Angie Brenneman said. "He's done a lot for the tennis community and I really respect his longevity. He's been through some demographic changes at Central and he has stuck it out through the good and the bad."

Brenneman said she's going to miss the enthusiasm with which Whittaker introduced his lineups.

"I try to yell just as loud, and especially against him," Brenneman said with a laugh. "I know the kids get a kick out of it."

"It's going to be weird not having him around," new Jimtown head coach Todd Denton said of Whittaker. "I've not only coached against him, but he was my teacher many years ago at Brookdale. I've learned a lot from him through the years."

By virtue of taking over at Jimtown, Denton is pulling a Whittaker in that he'll now head up a boys and a girls program. The twist in Denton's case is that he'll fill those duties at two different schools, as he remains boys head coach at Concord.

"It's going to seem strange to see a new face at Central," said Tif Schwartz, longtime head coach at NorthWood. "(Whittaker's) been there an awfully long time, and if he can come back, that would be nice so he can have a proper send-off, but whatever he does, I wish him well."

That new face at Central for at least this girls season is Matt Windy, the former boys basketball coach who also has a rich background in tennis.

Windy was a four-time team MVP collegiately between his tennis careers at Illinois Valley Community College and the University of St. Francis in Illinois, as well as a conference MVP.

"I don't think anybody's ever going to touch his records," Windy said of Whittaker. "I also think the girls have done a great job of being coachable and soaking in what I'm trying to teach them under some tough circumstances.  I'm sure I'm not doing everything exactly like him."

On the other side of town, at Memorial, there's still another coaching change, sort of.

Alex Holtz, who took over the Crimson Chargers on an interim basis last spring, is back. He previously headed up the program for five years before stepping aside in 2004.

Finally, altogether new to head coaching is Bethany Christian coach Gary Shetler, who is retired from a 40-year, full-time career at the Mennonite Foundation.

Top Players

Fairfield sophomore Emily Mast and Penn junior Haylei Snelson give the area a pair of No. 1 singles players already highly accomplished and knocking on the door for more. Each was an all-stater last spring.

Mast went 21-2 as a freshman for the Falcons, losing a state quarterfinal to eventual champion Jackie Kawamoto of Greenwood.

Snelson finished 30-2 as a sophomore, helping the Kingsmen to the team state semifinals.


Area Girls Tennis Capsules


Coach: Gary Shetler (first season).

Assistant: Sarah Yoder.

2013 record: 5-9.

Letterwinners lost: 3.

Returning lettewinners: 5. Seniors — Liz DeLeeuw, Brooke Hershberger, Lynea Khaethler. Sophomores — Mags Dutchersmith, Darienne Maust.

Others: Seniors — Sammy Kauffman, Kaley Yoder. Juniors — Olivia Copsey, Annie Hu. Sophomores — Jingjing He, Yejin Kim, Hyein Kwon, Jane Wang. Freshmen — Carissa Hostetler, Sarah Leininger, Brooke Weaver, Jiwoo Wi.

Noting: Shetler, retired from a 40-year career at Mennonite Foundation, begins his first season as a head coach. Hershberger returns at 1 singles.

So far: lost to Marian 4-1, lost to Goshen 4-1.

Next: Tuesday, April 15, at Central Noble.


Coach: Jan Soward (57-38 in 6 seasons at Concord).

Assistants: Trevor Warren, Kayla Vincent.

2013 record: 11-5 (4-3 NLC).

Letterwinners lost: 5.

Returning letterwinners: 3. Senior — Holly Angel. Juniors — Holyn Eldridge, Jenna Landis.

Others: Seniors — Hailey Gardner, Lauren Koerting, Katilyn Kronemeyer, Hannah Rechell, Sarah Wadsworth. Juniors — Olivia Kauffman, Alexa Klopfenstein, Mandy Meserve. Sophomores — Cali Cunningham, Vanessa Forrest, Wendy McQueen, Shannon Purcell, Michaela Searer, Katie Slabach. Freshmen — Alana Brubaker, Chloe O'Dell, Allison Murphy, Emma Westlake.

Noting: Landis returns at No. 1 singles, where she placed fourth in the NLC Tournament a year ago.

So far: def. SB Adams 4-1.

Next: Tuesday, April 15, at Penn.


Coach: Matt Windy (interim for Dave Whittaker).

Assistant: Ric Wiskotoni.

2013 record: 9-10 (5-3 NIC)

Letterwinners lost: 4.

Returning letterwinners: 6. Seniors — Ally Delks, Jane Mecklenburg, Julie Nolan, Maggie Zinich. Junior — Taylor Clarkson. Sophomore — Gabi Nolan.

Others: Seniors —  Caroline Oakley, Amber Warren. Juniors — Sarah Freehafer, Chelsea Glass, Makayla Huddleston, Emery Lade, Sarah Lindholm, Tomi Ohman, Alex Smith,  Katelyn Stout. Sophomores — Melissa Bilancio, Michaella Charles, Lauren Gingerich, Rachel Huang, Annie Hunsberger, Emily Maddux, Sara Nye, Katie Sokolowski, Taylor Sotebeer. Freshmen — Mariah Guillaume, Izzy Samuels.

Noting: Clarkson is projected to handle No. 1 singles, while Delks and Nolan are leading candidates at 1 doubles. Central will serve as sectional and regional host this spring. The tentative plan is for the Blazers and Northridge to alternate hosting after that.

Opener: Tuesday, April 15, at Northridge.


Coach: Alex Holtz (24-48 in 5 seasons at Memorial, 2000-04).

Assistants: Christy Grubb, Matt Grubb.

2013 record: 8-7 (3-4 NLC).

Letterwinners lost: 4.

Returning letterwinners: 7. Seniors — Delaney Gilbert, Haley Stouder. Juniors — Taelor Grose, Mady Robison, Corinn Whittaker. Sophomores — Taylor Freedline, Alexis Wilson.

Others: Senior — Hannah Dillman. Junior — Abby Weaver. Sophomores — Maddy Borger, Alyson Leedy. Freshmen — Maggie Dickerson, Krystal Grubb.

Noting: Whittaker and Grubb are leading candidates at  1 singles. No. 1 doubles returnees Stouder and Gilbert are in the mix to fill that spot again.

Opener: Tuesday, April 15, at Edwardsburg.


Coach: Mike Filbrun (216-62 in 16 seasons at Fairfield).

Assistant: Jerry Garber.

2013 record: 11-5 (8-0 NECC).

Letterwinners lost: 7.

Returning letterwinners: 4. Senior — Leah Wimmer. Junior — Lauren Streit. Sophomores — Emily Mast, Margie Stutzman.

Others: Senior — Janay Miller. Juniors — Brooke Hochstedler, Hannah Toole, Shannon Yoder. Sophomores — Lyndsea Bontrager, Kirsten Toole. Freshmen — Kayla Hendrix, Delaney Hochstedler, Atlanta Swank, Kylee Zollinger, Jenna Zollinger.

Noting: Mast went 21-2 as a freshman at No. 1 singles last spring, losing a state quarterfinal to eventual champion Jackie Kawamoto of Greenwood. Streit was the NECC champion at 2 singles.

So far: def. Central Noble 5-0.

Next: Tuesday, April 15, vs. NorthWood.


Coach: Daniel Love (14-2 in 1 season at Goshen).

Assistant: Alex Roth.

2013 record: 14-2 (6-1 NLC; Goshen Sectional champion).

Letterwinners lost: 4.

Returning letterwinners: 4. Seniors — Miranda Kay, Sarah Rush. Juniors — Kathleen Morrical, Kayci Troyer.

Others: Senior —  Courtney Dobrzykowski. Juniors — Christina Chavarria, Megan Ewing, Amy Harris. Sophomores — Liz Erickson, Ali Miller. Freshman — Kayleigh Crowder.

Noting: Miranda Kay returns to No. 1 singles, where she went 18-4 and was the NLC Tourney runner-up last spring. Harris and Troyer are penciled at 1 doubles for the Redskins, who are coming off their first sectional crown in 13 years.

So far: def. Bethany Christian 4-1, def. Jimtown 5-0.

Next: Monday, April 14, vs. SB Adams.


Coach: Todd Denton (first season at Jimtown).

Assistant: Todd Tharp.

2013 record: 4-10 (2-4 NSC).

Letterwinners lost: 3.

Roster: Senior — Amber Miller. Juniors — Katie Beron, Kayla Bilkowski, Cambria Comer, Grace Dunsmore, Maggie Farwig, Priscilla Jeffery, Madison Mawhorter, Carla Murillo, Noel Scott. Sophomores — Stephanie Aller, Brooke Dameron, Hannah Gasper, Erin Scott. Freshmen — Meghan Hutsell, Ally Isenbarger.

Noting: Denton, who remains the boys head coach at Concord, makes his foray into heading up high school girls. Lone senior Miller is at 1 singles. 

So far: def. SB Clay 3-2, lost to Goshen 5-0.

Next: Tuesday, April 15, at Marian.


Coach: Angie Brenneman (67-18 in 5 seasons at Northridge; 109-24 in 8 seasons overall).

2013 record: 14-2 (7-0 NLC; Northridge Sectional champion; Northridge Regional champion).

Letterwinners lost: 3.

Returning letterwinners: 4. Seniors — Courtney Clark, Emily Erekson. Juniors — Emily Hughes, Mackenzie Martin.

Others: Senior — Alexis Graber. Junior — Vanessa Monstein. Sophomores — Michaela Bontrager, Chase Kieper, Mackenzie Kauffman, Kylie Frauiger, Vanessa Raber, Madison Smucker, Freshmen — Alysha Homewood, Mhew Kangwansarankul, Taylor Sellers.

Noting: The regional champion Raiders return one-third of their No. 1s in doubles player Clark. She and Martin opened at 1 dubs this season, with Hughes at 1 singles. Northridge is putting the finishing touches on a new tennis structure that includes a locker room, office, concessions and storage. Players from the boys and girls programs helped raise money for the project.

So far: def. West Noble 5-0.

Next: Tuesday, April 15, at Elkhart Central.


Coach: Tif Schwartz (75-72 in 10 seasons at NorthWood).

Assistant: Jennis Wysong.

2013 record: 12-7 (2-5 NLC).

Letterwinners lost: 2.

Returning letterwinners: 6. Seniors — Alaina Donegan, Megan Reed, Madison Sheline, Kennedy Walter. Junior — Tori Schwartz. Sophomore — Sydney Wysong.

Others: Seniors — Bailey Miller, Kaitlyn Swihart. Juniors — Mikayla Bley, Stefany Callejas, Cheyenne Diamond, Yadira Figueroa, Betsy Mikel, Elesia Pruitt. Sophomores — Laura Brubaker, Bailey Diener, Bella Filbert, Audra Graber, Taylor Luster, Amanda Yaw. Freshmen — Samantha Borkholder, Desirae Diamond, Tatiana Fillum, Morgan Jenkins, Amanda Rhoade, Jama Rice, Delaney Shay, Matilda Stillson, Brittani Shields, Katie Troyer, Hannah Walter.

Noting: Wysong, 19-6 at 2 singles as a freshman, moves up to No. 1 Walter and Schwartz went 18-6 together at 1 doubles.

Opener: Tuesday, April 15, at Fairfield.


Coach: Eric Bowers (96-16 in 6 seasons at Penn).

Assistant: David Martin.

2013 record: 21-1 (8-0 NIC; Penn Sectional champion; Valparaiso Regional champion; LaPorte Semistate champion. State semifinalist).

Letterwinners lost: 4.

Returning letterwinners: 5. Seniors — Cameron Moore, Bailey Oppman. Juniors — Lauren McCarthy, Haylei Snelson. Sophomore — Amanda Ahmed.

Others: Seniors — Susan Chu, Laura Harmon, Mimi Ovaert, Gabi Schulte. Juniors — Reem Ali, Lydia Gruber, Krista Smith, Holly Spiritoso. Sophomores — Emma Baker, Tiffany Chukwuma, Meghan Devaraj, Morgan Ludwig, Emma Moon, Joanna Stochitoiu, Madeline Strintz, Alexa Sucharetza, Taylor Whitlow. Freshmen — Aliya Bralick, Tayla Brown, Zoe David, Kelly Dominguez, Casey Moore.

Noting: Snelson, who went 30-2 as a sophomore and was MVP of the NIC, returns to No. 1 singles. McCarthy was 21-3 at 1 doubles, while Moore and Ahmed went 24-0 together at 2 dubs.

Opener: Tuesday, April 15, vs. Concord.


Coach: Christine Winters (5-10 in 1 season at Wawasee).

Assistant: Lisa Ernsberger.

2013 record: 5-10 (0-7 NLC).

Letterwinners lost: 3.

Returning letterwinners: 8. Senior — Katy Ashpole. Juniors — Jada Antonides, Chelsea Carolus, Natalie Fritz, Jaclyn Miller. Sophomores — Brooke Fick, Jazlyn Gehlhausen, Katlin Kuhn.

Others: Juniors — Ashley Larson, Molly Smith, Marte Tveraa. Sophomores — Addison Ayres, Madison Cooper, Kayla Hershbeger, Charity Parker, Erin Wiktorowski. Freshmen — Paige Miller, Aubrey Schmeltz.

Noting: Lone senior Ashpole is slotted for No. 1 singles, while Gehlhausen and Schmeltz are favorites at 1 doubles.

Opener: Monday, April 14, at Lakeland.


Coach: John Zehr (52-26 in 5 seasons at Westview).

2013 record: 9-6 (6-2 NECC).

Letterwinners lost: 2.

Returning letterwinners: 8. Seniors — Charlotte Jones, Katelyn Miller, Chanda Strong. Sophomores — Miranda Kresse, Savannah Rang, Adrienne Roth, Megan Steider, Tessa Zimmerly.

Others: Sophomores — Stephani Hallgarth, Riley Hochstetler. Freshmen — Madison Burton, Karyssa David, Alisha Hochstetler, Grace St. Clair.

Noting: The Warriors return six starters, including all singles lineup and their 1 doubles pair. Jones headed up singles last spring, with Miller and Strong leading off doubles.

Opener: Tuesday, April 15, at Wawasee.


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