18 top-three league team finishes in past 31 years
2011 record: 8-13 overall, 6-9 fall record
2011 Iowa Conference finish: sixth
Starters lost: 3 (Emily Swartz, Kayla Donner, Riley Taylor)
Starters returning: 4 (Ashlei Bos, Jordan Langer, Sarah Montgomery, Anna Striegel)
Letterwinners lost/returning: 3/7
The addition of several talented freshmen has lifted the season outlook for the Central College women’s tennis team.
Seven newcomers will bolster last year’s squad that compiled a 6-9 fall record and finished sixth in the Iowa Conference.
“No question, this is the deepest we’ve been on the women’s side for a long time,” coach Steve Tyler said. “We’re going to be young but we’re going to be very competitive.”
While four starters and seven letterwinners return, the Dutch have big questions to answer up top, replacing graduated four-year starters Emily Swartz and Kayla Donner.
“They leave big holes for us in singles play at Nos. 1 and 2,” Tyler said.
The four returning sophomores will scramble to hold their positions in the top six.
Ashlei Bos posted a 4-11 mark last year at No. 3 singles and was 3-8 at No. 2 doubles. Anna Striegel was 3-11 at No. 4 singles and Sarah Montgomery was 5-10 at No. 6. Jordan Langer teamed with Montgomery to compile a 4-9 record at No. 3 doubles.
“We’ll rely on the returners and the experience they gained last year,” Tyler said. “They’ve been through the rigors of the Iowa Conference and we’ll be expecting a lot from these ladies.”
The Dutch will also get a boost from senior Chelsea Johnson, who was sidelined last season because of an injury. In 2010, Johnson posted a 12-3 record at No. 6 singles.
“Chelsea’s our lone senior and she’ll be very competitive this year,” Tyler said.
The top freshman appears to be Angie Allgood of Muscatine, who finished fifth at the state singles tournament.
“Angie could be our No. 1,” Tyler said. “She’s consistent, quick and knows how to move opponents around the court. She’s a more seasoned freshman with lots of competitive experience playing in the USTA.”
Megan Davis of Denver, Colo., will make an impact.
“She played No. 1 in high school and has a nice all-around game,” Tyler said.
Sophomore transfer Ashlyn Huegel should also make an immediate contribution.
“Ashlyn already has a year of college action under her belt having played Nos. 4, 5 and 6 at Illinois Wesleyan,” Tyler said.
Other freshmen with solid high school experience include Katie Todd of Cedar Falls, Amanda Kuhn of Glen Ellyn, Ill., Anna Bowser of Fort Dodge and Jessie Ryals of Pella.
“I think the folks coming in could take over the top positions in good form,” Tyler said. “These seven ladies will really battle with the returners. It’s going to come down to hard work and who has put in the hours over the summer.”
Tyler forecasts traditional powerhouses Coe College and Luther College to maintain their reign over the Iowa Conference. A change from previous years is the move of the league’s automatic qualifying tournament from the fall to the spring.
“I don’t see it as a major change,” Tyler said. “But it will shorten the fall season and lengthen the spring. It could also make a difference in some rosters with players that study abroad or student teach.”
With only five upperclassmen, Tyler is excited for the future of the program.
“We’ll have a solid base for several years to come,” Tyler said. “We want to return to being in the top two or three in the league.”