All six Loyola team members who competed in the 2010 girls tennis state meet are back in the fold.
So is Devon Hubbard. The senior didn’t play at State last year, but she’s back as the team’s No. 1 singles player. She helped the Ramblers place second at Edwardsville’s invitational during the weekend.
“She’s learned to play within herself,” said Loyola coach Dave Bavlsik, who’s assisted by his wife, Judy. “I was happy with how she showed progress.”
Loyola finished as the runner-up to host Edwardsville in the 24-team tournament. The Ramblers won their first four dual matches before losing to the Tigers 5-0. Only two of Loyola’s starters played in the final match due to the excessive heat.
“We went against some strong teams down there,” said Bavlsik, whose team entered the week at 8-5 overall and 3-0 in Catholic League matches. “Our players really had to lift their games, and it was the best they’ve played all season. We saw a lot of promise and development down there.”
Hannah Nichols returned to the team this year and is playing at No. 2 singles after not playing for the Ramblers as a sophomore.
“We are very pleased with her game,” the coach said. “She takes risks, and she’s smart in her strategy. I think her confidence is coming along, too.”
Loyola’s top doubles team features Hannah Post and Meredith Abrahamson. The pair finished 2-2 at State last year.
“They are back to the point where they left off last year,” Bavlsik said. “We need to work on a few aspects of their game, but they will be a strong team.”
Nora Hughes and Jennie Gault make up the No. 2 doubles team. Hughes played singles at the state tournament last year, while Gault played doubles with Kristin Marren, who still is in the mix for a spot in the lineup.
Grace Foley is the other Rambler with State experience. Right now, Bavlsik has her at No. 3 singles.
“We have a nice depth to our team,” the coach said. “We are trying to work with the kids more individually to try and identify some things they can really work on. I think if we reach our potential, we can be a top-10 team in Illinois. I believe our team is stronger than last year’s.”
The Ramblers will next compete at Deerfield’s invitational.