Charleston lost its captain, Rachel Thomas, here playing in last year’s Mattoon Invitational. She was the team’s No. 1 singles player for three years.

The Charleston girls tennis squad doesn’t have a senior on its roster this season. Rather, they have a great number of inexperienced players looking to make their mark.

Rachel Thomas, the reigning Apollo Conference No. 1 singles champion, graduated after qualifying for the state tournament. Thomas played at No. 1 singles for three years for the Trojans, a huge loss for third-year coach Eric Selstad. 

“She is a big loss because Rachel was a very good captain and really demonstrated to the other players what kind of commitment and effort was required to win,” Selstad said. “However, we have some young ladies who will be stepping in to try and fill the shoes. Maggie Goetten and Lyla Long have been voted captains by their peers for our season and I think they will do a good job.”

Goetten is penciled in as the team’s No. 1 on the singles sheet as a sophomore, while junior Hannah Larson is pegged as the team’s No. 2. Goetten and Larson will also likely be the team’s No. 1 doubles team. 

“Maggie is really making strides moving from #5 singles to the #1 court,” said Selstad. “It is going to be a wake up call for her, but if she keeps the ball in play she will be competitive, since not many girls hit the ball as hard as she does. Hannah, also made improvements since last year and is very quick and an aggressive doubles player. She will be fun to watch in singles and doubles.”

As for the rest of the lineup, Selstad is still evaluating. Goetten and Larson are the only two returning players. For now, Selstad said that Emma Amaya, Maci Mayhall, Lyla Long, and Kayli Hutton have “made great strides” and could crack the varsity lineup 

“More than half of the players this year are first-year players,” said Selstad. “We have quite a few sophomores and juniors that have never really swung a racket until a couple of weeks ago, so we are still working on fundamentals. Several of these young ladies I suspect, will threaten for a five of six varsity singles position and or a number three doubles position by the end of the season.”

Charleston placed third in the Apollo Conference last year, but knows that placing high will be difficult during the team’s rebuild. For now, he sees Teutopolis, who joined on a one-year basis, and Mattoon, the returning conference champion, as the two main contenders. 

“I think this year is going to be a little unique since Teutopolis is in our conference now,” said Selstad. “They are strong every year, just like Mattoon. I think Emily Stortzum and Tess Huene from Mattoon are going to be very tough especially if they pair up for doubles again. They are both excellent singles players as well. However, T-Town has Mary Probst returning, who placed sixth in state last year with her partner Alli Brumleve in doubles. She will be a strong singles player as well as a force in doubles again. “

Charleston gets its first look at Teutopolis today at home. Along with other teams in the state, Charleston’s schedule is reduced to mainly dual matches. 

“I am concerned if the virus positivity percentage continues to rise,” said Selstad. “We will have our first team exposure that may shut our program down for a few weeks. I think we are taking reasonable precautions, trying to keep our players socially distant in practice. We are just taking everything one day at a time and this is a learning experience for all of the players and coaches.”

ROSTER

Juniors: Emily Davidson, Marissa Green. Hannah Larson, Addason Logsdon, Gracie White.

Sophomores: Tessa Ashley, Maggie Goetten, Kaylie Hutton, Maci Mayhall.

Freshmen: Kailee Gough, Greta Larson, Ally Logsdon.

SCHEDULE

DateOpponentH/ATime
8/24TeutopolisH4:30 p.m.
8/27Mt. ZionH4:15 p.m.
8/29St. Anthony InviteA9 a.m.
9/2ShelbyvilleH4:15 p.m.
9/5Robinson TourneyA9 a.m.
9/8EffinghamA4:15 p.m.
9/9JV: RobinsonA4:30 p.m.
9/10ParisA4:15 p.m.
9/12Mattoon A8 a.m.
9/14OlneyH4:15 p.m.
9/15RobinsonA4:15 p.m.
9/21Robinson H4:15 p.m.
9/22NewtonH4:15 p.m.
10/2Apollo Conference @ EffinghamA1 p.m.
10/3Apollo Conference @ EffinghamA9 a.m.
10/5CaseyH4:15 p.m.
10/7MattoonA4 p.m.