Snow-covered Park Center Courts and indoor practices have taken the spring out of spring girls tennis so far.
Nonetheless, since their Feb. 25 first day of practice, 15 Columbia High athletes have been going through their paces to prepare for the Bruins' March 19 season opener.
Twelve of this year's team members are returning players for returning Bruins Coaches Linda Hilkey and Tammy Carter. Four seniors, seven juniors, and a sophomore comprise that dozen, though only a handful have significant varsity experience. Coaches also welcomed the turnout of three first-year prep players: a junior, a sophomore, and a freshman.
All are competing for a limited number of varsity spots: seven to be exact, same as in recent and past seasons. Three singles positions, and two doubles teams.
Senior Emily Lockman returns as CHS's No. 1 singles player. Also back are doubles players Kenzie Chase, Roz Slater, and Chloe McLaughlin, all seniors, and junior doubles player Paris Happel.
Sophomore Yesenia Lemmon and juniors Christine Garza, Jaclyn Markey, Emily Reitz, Suzanne Reitz, Sophie Wenz, and Crimson Willey round out the returning group. This year's rookies are junior Leah Ursonal, sophomore Olivia Ernst, and freshman Jimena Avila. At this writing, coaches had not yet determined a lineup for the Bruins' season opener.
"It's been a trying year so far," Carter said last week. "We have been in the gym hitting and the girls are getting back into their swinging groove. Being in the gym is so hard to practice the serve and to get used to the size of the actual court. We are hoping to get outside really soon!"
CHS once again will be playing in the hybrid Southwest Washington League, which has 1A and 1B members. Players will be competing for limited Southwest District tournament berths: each school in the district gets to take one singles player and one doubles team to district. The district gets one singles and one doubles berth to the WIAA 1A/2B/1B State tournament at the end of May.