After rallying off 50 consecutive Northern Ohio League victories to cap off the historic conference, the Lady Truckers make the move to the Sandusky Bay Conference with goals of continuing their dominance on the tennis courts. They are going to have to do it with a bit of a youth movement.
Norwalk returns three letterwinners in 2017. Senior Macy Miller, junior Jordan Gran and sophomore Megan Berry bring back the experience as the Top 3 leaders for the Lady Truckers. Berry played third singles last season and compiled a varsity record of 29-5 earning first team All-NOL for her efforts.
Gran spent the 2016 season playing second doubles and piling up a 29-5 record and earning first team All-NOL. Miller spent 2016 rotating between varsity and junior varsity last season and piled up a record of 12-2. Sophomore Gabrielle Horowitz, sophomore Mara Berry, junior Stela Berry, freshman Emma Trost and senior Elizabeth Ratliff will all compete for varsity spots in 2017.
“Many of the key pieces of the last four championship seasons have graduated,” Norwalk coach Chris Higgins said. “However, our younger players on those teams have seen what a winning culture looks like and how successful varsity players handle themselves. Hopefully this team can develop some momentum because we will be very young this season compared to previous seasons. Nine out of our 19 total players are brand new to high school tennis.”
Last season, the Lady Truckers went 18-4 overall and 12-0 in the NOL winning their fourth consecutive NOL title. Norwalk’s only losses came to Ashland, Lexington and twice to Perkins who is in the SBC with the Lady Truckers. Norwalk took second place in their own doubles tournament and third place at the Perkind Doubles Trournament last season.
Higgins is in his eighth season as head tennis coach and has a 117-20 record as the leader of the girls team. He is joined against by Ray Scheid, Dave Rehnborg and Harry Love on the coaching staff. They will have their work cut out for them as they try to figure out how to replace State Qualifiers Anessa Berry and Kaitlyn Stoll and District Qualifiers Raeanna Ramos and Mya Ray.
“After losing four of eight letterwinners, our overall team depth will be tested this season,” Higgins said. “It will be especially important that we fill second singles, third singles and second doubles with the right mix of players. There will be a great deal of competition for the three remaining varsity starting positions. Despite losing some of the winningest players in the history of the program in Anessa Berry and Kaitlyn Stoll, we feel we have some young talent that can step into the lineup and start to develop.”
The Lady Truckers will be on the prowl for their fifth consecutive conference championship as they move to the SBC, but Higgins knows it will take a lot of hard work to continue their recent success.
“With our youth movement this season, we will have to find ways to compete with some of the veteran teams in both our conference and non-conference schedule,” Higgins said. “Perkins, Clyde, and Vermilion will be new league opponents for us as we start play this fall in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference. The last few seasons have been very solid for both Perkins and Clyde. I expect those matches to be some of our most difficult this season.”
The Lady Truckers kick off the season at 1 a.m. on August 12 at Fremont Ross.