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Tigresses rebuild around O’Neil

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(BCR photo/Kevin Hieronymus)
PHS senior Jen O’Neil makes a return in Thursday’s match vs. Ottawa’s Molly Angell. O’Neil won in three sets.

PRINCETON — While the girls tennis program at Princeton runs strong with 43 girls out this fall, only three of their top eight players from last year’s perfect 14-0 season return — seniors Jen O’Neil, Courtney Webb and Emma Reidner.

“You can say this is a rebuilding year for us,” PHS coach Connie Lind said.

O’Neil returns to the top of the order at No. 1 singles. She qualified for state last year and is picking up right where she left off last season, Lind said, showing stronger hitting and ability to score at the net and at the baseline. She scored what Lind called a big win over Ottawa standout Molly Angell 7-6, 4-6, 10-7 on the homecourts Thursday.

“Jen brings both leadership and experience to our team. She played in USTA tournaments this summer, that has prepared her both physically and mentally for our season,” Lind said. “She has gotten stronger, which gives her free points on her serve.”

Webb moves up to No. 2 singles, having played No. 3 doubles last year. She has good foot speed, Lind said, and “is always thinking on the court. She sees the whole court well, meaning she moves her opponent side to side or brings them to the net.”

Junior Anjali Patel and Brittany Krohn look to pick up where they left off playing well at No. 1 doubles at the F/S level last year. Lind said both are strong servers and aggressive at the net. They placed third at the Sterling Newman Invite.

Senior captain Laura Behrends will team up with junior Ellie Bonucci  at No. 2 doubles. Bonucci played No. 1 singles for the F/S last year and has had to learn to share the court, Lind said. They play very well together and are getting stronger every day, she said.

Reidner will anchor the No. 3 doubles with Megan Smith or Malena Wheeler in mix as her partner. Lind said “our team is evenly balanced so we can move players around and not lose anything.  So we will be trying different players in different positions to come up the strongest team.”

Other players contributing this year will be will be seniors Fran Bowman, Lindsay Hartwig, Lexi Mink, Jessica Birkey, Hannah Lund, Tiffany Deguzman and Chloe Baron; and juniors Maddie Schafer, Jade Purvis, Kim Schlesinger, Addie Bryson, Maddie McKeown and Emma Mosier.

There are 21 girls playing at the F/S level.

• The Princeton Tigresses continued their win streak to 15 straight with Monday’s 5-0 win at both levels over East Moline. However, Ottawa snapped it Thursday with a 3-2 loss. Along with O’Neil’s win at No. 1 singles, Reidner and Smith posted a 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 3 doubles.

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