The 2011 season couldn't have gone much better for Batavia.
Upstate Eight River Division champions. West Aurora sectional champions. Placed in the top 20 at state. A 22-3-1 overall record and 6-0 in conference -- undefeated for the third consecutive year.
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But with four of its six players back from state, there's a chance 2012 could be just as good … if not better.
"We're going for the conference three-peat this season," Batavia coach Brad Nelson said. "If we can stay away from injuries we could have a great season. We have plenty of experience and some promising newcomers to the lineup."
That experience starts with No. 1 singles player Miranda Grizaffi, a senior with a career singles record of 75-23. She qualified for state her sophomore and junior years and needs 17 more wins to become the fifth player in program history to reach 100 victories.
Junior Liza Fruendt, a two-time conference champion and state qualifier last year with a career singles record of 54-5, will play No. 2 singles.
Batavia also brings back junior Jenny Mizikar and sophomore Amelia Cogan who were conference champs at second doubles and state qualifiers last season with a 35-3 record. They will move up to No. 1 doubles.
Second doubles player Brooke LeFevre, a junior, won conference at third doubles last season and has a career 42-11 doubles record. Seniors Morgan Hess and Lauren Herrmann at third doubles were conference champs at fourth doubles last year with a 16-2 record.
Batavia adds the following newcomers: sophomore Nora McClure at third singles, sophomore Sydney Unterberg at fourth singles, junior Annie Maren at second doubles and seniors Betsy Oroni and Courtney Hutchinson at fourth doubles.
Elsewhere in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division, North Stars coach Eve Tubman is excited to return senior Ashley Randazzo who qualified for state last year.
Senior Faith Oehlerking moves from singles to doubles this year. Both Randazzo and Oehlerking have been varsity players for four years.
The doubles team of junior Kaity Wolfe and senior Alex Duncan will also be back, as will senior Abby Kloberdanz.
Joining that mix of veterans are three freshmen: Brittany Rohrsen, Emma Spellman and Morgan Rerko.
"They are working extremely hard out there and we are excited about our season," said Tubman who also noted she has moved up JV players. Lianne Anderson (sophomore), Dinah Washington (junior), Julianna Giacopelli (senior) and senior Tessa Masa.
"Our strong work ethic and desire to succeed is our strength," Tubman said. "We expect to be very competitive at the conference and sectional level."
At St. Charles East, coach Sena Drawer has seven returners to build around: juniors Haydyn Jones, Kelsie Roberton, Sarah Church and Jamie Youngberg, and seniors Meghan Gauthier, Kellie Sciurba and Lauren McNally.
Drawer also mentioned newcomers Carly Huskisson and Alexa Huskisson joining that group.
"We're looking forward to a stronger showing than last year," Drawer said.
Geneva coach Maureen Weiler brings back sophomore Kirby Einck who made an immediate impact playing varsity tennis by qualifying for state as a freshman.
Senior Kelsey Hess and junior Margo Hess, who played second doubles last year, will be playing first doubles this fall. Weiler said she's moving up JV players to fill seven varsity positions.
"In the conference, I would expect it to be close between Batavia, St. Charles North and St. Charles East and us," Weiler said.
West Aurora is turning to a new coach following the retirement of longtime Blackhawks coach Brian Brooks. Tad Keely takes over and mentioned assistants Neal Ormond, Liz Ruddy and Meg Benear for helping make his first year a smooth transition.
It also helps to have a returnee like junior Emily Stefanicic who qualified for the state tournament in singles last year.
"We're expecting Emily to be a leader on and off the court as she strives to be one of the best players in the area," Keely said.
Senior Kaolin Sewell is back in singles as is junior Gabby Hansen who could play either singles or doubles.
Among the new players to watch are juniors Becca Flynn and Kendra Triplett, seniors Bibi Sanchez and Andrea Sanchez, and freshman Carley Frauenhoff.
"We're looking for a solid season at No. 1 singles with Stefancic," Keely said. "We will look to be able to compete in the always strong DVC conference with a young and enthusiastic team."
Rosary coach John Tsang might have the youngest team around with three returning varsity starters: junior Andrea Goyao who played first doubles last season, sophomore Megan Conlin, a second singles player last year, and senior Paige Robinson who played second doubles last season. Tsang is looking forward to the pairing of Goyao and Conlin at first doubles.
With so many spots up for grabs, look for seniors Cara Custer, Elise McArdle, Colleen Madlinger and Marie Zolfo, and sophomores Maddy Deufel, Alexis Thomas and Haley VanDyke to step up.
"We have a number of new players this season adding good variety to the starting rotation," Tsang said.
Kaneland is coming off a very strong 2011 campaign that saw the Knights win the Northern Illinois Big 12 and qualify players for state for just the second time in school history.
That team was Madi Jurcenko and Amelia Napiorkowski who placed third at the St Charles North sectional.
Jurcenko, now a sophomore, returns along with two other sophomores Sammie Schrepferman and Angelica Emmanouil who will be at the top of the lineup again this year.
"They gained great experience last year and should be very competitive throughout the season," Knights coach Tim Larsen said.
Seniors Jessica Woodward and Jenna Bicos will play No. 2 doubles behind Emmanouil and Jurcenko.
Sophomores Colleen Landers and Stephanie Karolewiez could see some varsity playing time as well.
"We have a lot of young talent on the team," Larsen said. "With the return of four of our top five players, and a very solid supporting cast, we should be very competitive again in our conference this year."