Roseburg High’s girls tennis team has a lot of confidence and the talent to back it up.
“We’ll send a lot of girls to state this year,” sophomore Samantha Eichman said, when asked what she was expecting this year. “I’m looking forward to playing, I loved high school tennis last year.”
Samantha Eichman was one of six girls to advance to the state tournament last season and only one of last year’s state qualifiers, Megan Danielson, graduated.
Adrienne Powell, Bailey Norlin-Pritchard, Steffi Early and Ally Sandfort are all returning to the Indians’ program this year.
In addition to strong returning players, Roseburg also welcomes strong freshmen in Mackenzie Eichman, Jayda Pieske, Hannah Root and Lauren Sandfort.
“Our depth is our strength,” Powell, a senior, said. “A lot of our players are about the same level, so we can push each other to do really well.”
Powell expects to win the Southwest Conference district championship again and hopes to bring all four singles and all four doubles teams to the state tournament on May 17-19 at Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton.
The Roseburg girls have 30 players on the roster.
“I’ve had tough girls in the past, but I don’t think I have a single tough girl on the team,” head coach Jeremy Root said. “I say ‘do this’ and they do it and they smile, they’re very coachable. We have a few girls that haven’t played much and all of a sudden they look pretty good and I’m pretty impressed.”
Powell played singles last season, but is expecting to team up with Pieske in doubles this season.
“I’ll probably be playing doubles this year,” Powell said. “I’m really excited about that because it’s a new experience. I feel like I’ve been practicing a lot this winter and I’m definitely ready.
“Doubles is a lot of strategy and a completely different game than singles. We learn to work well together and move well on the court together and I think communication is a big part of that so we’re working on this year.”
Roseburg’s first tennis meet was scheduled for Tuesday against Grants Pass, but was canceled due to rain. The Tribe will play Portland-area teams Jesuit and Sunset on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“Those matches will show us what we need to work on,” Jeremy Root said.
Jesuit finished fourth in the 6A tourney last year, Sunset finished second and Roseburg was sixth.
When it comes to the Southwest Conference, the toughest competition for Roseburg will likely come from Sheldon.
Although some of the toughest competition may come from within the team as many of the players are of similar skill level.
“I think Mackenzie and I will be the top two singles players this year,” Samantha Eichman said. “It’ll probably switch off between us.”
Coach Root said the girls will likely play each other the day before a meet to determine the top four players.
“They’re going to be fighting all year,” Jeremy Root said. “Whoever works the hardest is going to be allowed to play. Basically they’re going to play each other and whoever wins, wins.
“I think we’re going to do quite well,” he added. “The other teams don’t appear to be better, and we are better.”