ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North girls tennis coach Eve Tubman jokes that she "likes to send her lineup into the blender every so often."
Whatever the mixing and matching churns out in the upper half of her doubles lineup, Tubman is confident the final product should serve the North Stars well.
North's season is scheduled to begin today with a match at Metea Valley. Consider the first few weeks open auditions for spots in Tubman's lineup, where some combination of senior Lianne Anderson and juniors Brittany Rohrsen, Emma Spellman and Morgan Rerko are likely to compose what projects as the team's overall strength – No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.
Three of the four were big pieces for North last season, with Rerko's sophomore season marred by a wrist injury.
"They really all have some great, different skills," Tubman said. "Emma has a big serve and some big groundstrokes. Brittany's like a workhorse and just is very steady. Lianne has a huge backhand and is very competitive. And Morgan has such great footwork.
"And I want the girls to have fun but I want them to take care of business first, so personalities are going to come into that."
Anderson and Rerko both have substantial histories playing alongside Rohrsen. Anderson and Rohrsen played No. 1 doubles together for much of last season, and would like to play with Rohrsen again – or at least somebody who possesses many of her qualities.
"We had a lot of long matches that were pretty close last year, and she's the one that energizes me mostly, and I need someone like that," said Anderson, hunting her first IHSA State Tournament berth as a senior. "Also someone with a strong forehand because I like my backhand a lot better."
Rerko's history with Rohrsen extends further back.
"We played together freshman year on varsity and we won conference for 4 doubles, and we just play really well together," Rerko said. "Unfortunately last year I couldn't play with her because of my wrist but I'm hoping to play with her or Emma Spellman in doubles, and if not, I can also see myself playing singles. But doubles is my go-to."
Rerko's return to form is one of the top causes for optimism that North could be more competitive this fall with Tri-Cities powers Batavia and Geneva, plus rival St. Charles East.
A soccer injury resulted in broken bones in Rerko's left wrist that sidelined her for most of last tennis season. When she returned in the season's final weeks, she was wearing a brace that made her less comfortable, and her confidence was shaken.
"I would always be so scared to hit anything," Rerko said. "I just felt mentally weak and physically weak. But that's changed over the past year."
Even if North excels at 1 and 2 doubles as Tubman envisions, more points will be needed to score team victories. Sarah Oshana and Mackenzie Solomon should be part of the doubles depth solution as North grooms several new singles prospects. Finding wins at the lower end of the singles and doubles spectrums loom large.
"I think our goal at least is to make all the doubles slots pretty strong this year, and then work on our singles players so next year they have some experience behind them that will help them later," Anderson said.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Lianne Anderson, St. Charles North, Sr.
Anderson is the lone senior vying for a spot in the No. 1 doubles lineup amid a talented cluster of contenders for the North Stars.
Megan Conlin, Rosary, Sr.
Conlin will look to re-establish herself as an anchor in Rosary's lineup after the graduation of former doubles partner Andrea Goyao.
Kirby Einck, Geneva, Sr.
Einck, back-to-back Kane County Chronicle Girls Tennis Player of the Year, notched four victories at the IHSA State Tournament as a junior.
Grace Krueger, Geneva, So.
After earning an IHSA State Tournament berth as a freshman, Krueger served notice she will be a force as her career unfolds.
Nora McClure, Batavia, Sr.
McClure returns to top Batavia's singles lineup on the heels of a 24-win junior season and IHSA State Tournament qualification.
Sammie Schrepferman, Kaneland, Sr.
Schrepferman will anchor the senior-loaded Knights at No. 1 singles after a junior season that included a second-place sectionals finish and three wins at the IHSA State Tournament.
Jaci Spoerl, St. Charles East, Sr.
Spoerl, who has committed to play college tennis at Division-II Ohio Dominican, should lead the way on East's new courts as former assistant Matt Bulman takes over the girls program for Sena Drawer.
Madi Jurcenko (Sr.)-Jelly Emmanouil (Sr.), Kaneland
After advancing to the fifth round in consolation play of the state tournament as juniors, the area's most seasoned and accomplished tandem is poised for a banner final go-around.
Julianne Robinson (So.)-Sydnee Unterberg (Sr.), Batavia
Robinson, a conference champion at No. 3 doubles last season, looks to ascend in Batavia's doubles hierarchy to team with Unterberg, a returning doubles state qualifier.