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SEASON PREVIEW: 2017 Concordia women's tennis

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 1, 2017 in Women's Tennis

At a glance
Head coach: Joel Reckewey (3rd year)
2016 record: 8-15 overall, 5-3 GPAC (T-3rd)
Key returners: Alison Ebel (Jr.); Annie Horn (Jr.); Kayla Smock (So.); Amanda Von Seggern (Jr.); Katelinn Wurm (So.)
Key losses: Hannah Boe; Hailey Lemos
Newcomers: Angela Bell; Lindee Schultz; Kirsten Wagner
2016 GPAC All-Conference: Annie Horn (singles/doubles honorable mention); Hailey Lemos (doubles honorable mention); Kayla Smock (singles honorable mention)

The 2016 Concordia women’s tennis team was made up of almost exclusively freshmen and sophomores. A year later, head coach Joel Reckewey has a much more experienced roster led by the likes of juniors Alison Ebel and Annie Horn and sophomore Kayla Smock.

Despite the youth of last season’s team, the Bulldogs came together during conference play. They finished third in the GPAC with a conference record of 5-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament. Late in the season, Concordia went on a run in which it won five of six matches against conference opponents.

“I really like where our women’s team is at,” Reckewey said. “Last year we had a winning record in the conference and ended up getting third. We have the same core team with a lot of players in similar spots and we have a lot of good recruits coming in. One is Kirsten Wagner who had a lot of success in the Nebraska high school scene. We’re glad to have her. Having a team with a good sense of itself and then bringing in her is a good step forward for the tennis program.”

Horn, who hails from Denver, has been near the top of the lineup every season during her Bulldog career. She collected honorable mention all-GPAC accolades in both singles and doubles last season and owns 22 career singles victories.

Naturally, Horn is one of the leaders on this team.

“She’s a very consistent player,” Horn said. “She puts a lot of balls in play and that makes it tough for the opponent. She’s a great leader for the women’s team in the way that she plays and the way that she competes.”

Hailey Lemos and Smock joined Horn with all-conference recognition in 2016. Horn combined with Lemos on a 6-2 record versus conference foes at the No. 1 doubles spot. Meanwhile, Smock went 5-2 in her GPAC singles matches.

Other experienced Bulldogs are juniors Ebel and Amanda Von Seggern and sophomore Katelinn Wurm. Ebel saw significant action at the Nos. 3 and 4 singles spots while Wurm played split time between the Nos. 2 and 3 positions.

A York High School graduate, Wagner sees team chemistry as a strength for this year’s group of Bulldogs.

“They’ve been incredibly welcoming,” Wagner said of her teammates. “The first time I saw someone on the tennis team, I didn’t know who they were. We weren’t even at the tennis courts, but they recognized me as one of the new people coming in so they made it a point to come say hi and see how things were going. Everyone is just so nice. It’s incredible.”

Wagner is a standout among a freshman class that includes Angela Bell and Lindee Schultz. Wagner topped York in singles wins last season while leading the Dukes to the Class B state tennis tournament.

In last season’s action, the Bulldogs defeated conference rivals College of Saint Mary, Hastings (twice), Midland, Mount Marty and Northwestern. Now they hope to build upon those results in 2017.

“We expect that we’re going to be in the hunt,” Reckewey said. “We want to improve on that. We have our work cut out for us, but we’re embracing the challenge and looking forward to seeing what we can do and pull off some good wins.”

The Bulldogs opened up their season back in the fall with a home loss to Fort Hays State University (Kan.). They will be in action for the first time this spring season when they go up against Baker University (Kan.) in a 12 p.m. match on Saturday (Feb. 4). It will take place inside the Abbott Sports Complex in Lincoln.