Upper Arlington News

Girls Tennis

Competition fierce among Bears

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Audrey Berger is among the top returnees for the Upper Arlington girls tennis team and 11th-year coach Shaun Stamps. The Golden Bears will play host to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown on Friday, Aug. 15.
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If Upper Arlington High School girls tennis coach Shaun Stamps has any gray hairs, they're well-hidden.

But given the competitive nature of this year's tryouts, senior Audrey Berger wouldn't be surprised to see a few pop out soon.

"It (was) the most stressed I've ever seen Shaun when deciding who belongs on which team," Berger said after practice Aug. 7, eight days before the Golden Bears' scheduled opening match at home against Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown. "I know a lot of girls worked really hard over the summer and have improved a lot. They are right there in terms of maybe making a higher team than they thought they might.

"A lot of the girls have been working on their net game. Volleys and footwork have improved."

Berger is one of five returnees from the top seven as it stood at the end of last season, along with junior Olivia Kompa and sophomores Kyra Jung, Anna Marie Reynolds and Ashley Weeks. Berger and Jung teamed to win the doubles championship in their home Division I sectional, then finished third at district and went 1-1 at state.

UA capped the season by winning its 14th Division I Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state championship.

Stamps, who is in his 11th season leading the program, did not name any players beyond the top five entering the week because the roster wasn't finalized.

"Everybody was so close," Stamps said. "We've lost three from last year (in 2014 graduates Emily Flitcraft, Beniva Ganther and Katie Schoedinger), so we're not as deep."

Last season, UA went 18-1 overall and 7-0 in the OCC-Central Division, earning 39 of a possible 42 points to win its 25th consecutive league championship. Dublin Coffman (34, 6-1) was league runner-up.

The Bears scored 13 points in the OCC's inaugural first-place tournament to place second, behind OCC-Cardinal champion Dublin Jerome (17) and ahead of OCC-Capital champion New Albany (12) and OCC-Ohio champion Pickerington Central (8).

UA begins OCC-Central play Tuesday, Aug. 19, at home against Thomas Worthington.

Berger played first singles during the regular season last year, opening with a 6-3, 7-6 win over eventual Division II state champion Ariana Iranpour of Hathaway Brown. Ganther and Reynolds played second doubles most of last season and placed second at sectional before going 1-1 at district.

"I'm better at the net now. I'm trying to get better in my serve and volleys in doubles," said Reynolds, who expects to play doubles this season. "I don't cover both sides (of the court) very well, so that's something I've been working on."

According to Stamps, singles play is emphasized during tryouts, followed by doubles work.

"I need four really good doubles players, and everybody has a shot right now," Stamps said. "My philosophy has always been that I want to win both doubles courts, because that takes pressure off my singles players. Then, I'll only need one win from (the three singles players to win a match)."

Despite the uncertainty of the lineup, Jung said she and Berger already are hoping to make another deep postseason run in doubles.

"We did it last year and it worked well," Jung said. "We ended up having to play (the eventual state runners-up, Cincinnati Sycamore's Alexa Abele and Maggie Skwara). Maybe we can try to do better this year."

SCHEDULE

Aug. 15 -- vs. Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown

*Aug. 19 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

Aug. 20 -- vs. Pickerington North

Aug. 23 -- Canfield Doubles Tournament

*Aug. 26 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*Aug. 28 -- vs. Westland

*Sept. 2 -- at Central Crossing

*Sept. 4 -- at Dublin Coffman

*Sept. 9 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

*Sept. 11 -- at Marysville

Sept. 13 -- vs. Rocky River Magnificat and Watterson

Sept. 20 -- OCC tournament at TBA

Oct. 7 -- at Pickerington Central

*League contest

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