Marietta High's tennis team is enjoying a special season.
The Lady Tiger netters are currently undefeated on the court with a 10-0 overall record and a 7-0 East Central Ohio League mark. If they continue to win, a league title is theirs for the taking.
"Our goal is always to win the league title," said fourth-year MHS head coach Chris Mayer. "I knew going in that I had the team that had a chance to do it.
Photo courtesy of Mike Miller
Marietta High freshman and No. 1 singles player Katie Kitchen returns a shot in a match this season. Kitchen is currently 7-0 in East Central Ohio League play and one of the reasons why the Tiger tennis team is undefeated at 10-0.
Photo courtesy of Mike Miller
Marietta High senior Amanda Ferguson looks to hit a ball during a match this season. Ferguson is primarily a doubles player but has filled in at singles.
"Right now, we're in a good position. We control our own destiny."
In the ECOL tennis standings, Marietta owns a one-game advantage over Dover. Next week, on Sept. 25, the Lady Tigers and host Lady Tornadoes are scheduled to square off in a showdown.
"If we win three of our last four league matches, we'll finish at least tied for first," Mayer said. "So if we keep playing the way we're playing, we can finish this up and win the league."
On Tuesday, Marietta hosted and defeated New Philadelphia 4-1 at the Glendale Courts. MHS beat NPHS, 3-2, in the first meeting on Aug. 22.
Now, the Lady Tigers need to take care of business on the road against Claymont (Sept. 19), Zanesville (Sept. 24) and of course Dover.
"That's pretty cool," said MHS No. 1 singles player Katie Kitchen of being undefeated. "We're all working well together as a team."
Marietta has come a long ways since finishing last year 5-9 overall and 5-5 in the ECOL (good for third place). Going into this season, Mayer had his top six players from 2012 back, plus the addition of two talented freshmen.
"I knew going into the season that we had a chance to win all of our games," Mayer said. "It would be tough. I mean, we've had a lot of tough matches, but they're playing well and we're pulling out the close ones right now.".
The returnees include seniors' Amanda Ferguson, Madison Miller, and Caitlin Harrison; juniors' Christy Heisler and Emily Ketelsen; and sophomore Calaya Rake.
The freshmen are Emma Stubbe and Kitchen, who helped Marietta Middle School claim the Wood County MS Tournament championship at Parkersburg's City Park in October of 2012. Kitchen finished as the No. 1 singles champion when she defeated Jackson's Alex Olson, 6-0 and 6-3. She was also on the winning No. 1 doubles team.
As an MHS varsity player, Kitchen (10-2 overall, 7-0 ECOL) hasn't skipped a beat.
Currently, she is playing at No. 1 singles, while Stubbe is teamed up with Ketelsen in No. 2 doubles.
"Katie's been playing really well," Mayer said. "I knew she'd be right up there, but didn't know if she'd be No. 1 or not going in. I knew she and Christy (Heisler) were close and that we had a solid, top two players."
Added Heisler, "Katie (Kitchen) plays a tough game. It's different, because she changes pace a lot."
At No. 2 singles, Heisler has posted a 11-1 mark (7-0 ECOL). Last year, she was an All-ECOL honoree.
"With those two, we have two strong players at the top," Mayer said.
At No. 3 singles is Harrison, a three-year letter winner.
The No. 1 doubles team features veteran players' Miller and Ferguson (8-4). Ferguson is 3-0 as a singles player.
"We're winning off our doubles, even when we lose one or two singles matches," Mayer said. "I mean, we've picked up a lot of matches because of our depth."
"I've got eight strong players," the coach continued. "If one of them can't be there, I've got the depth to fill in and still win the match."
Winning of course is the name of the game, and now there's the possibility of notching the school's first ECOL tennis crown.
"It's definitely been an exciting year so far," Mayer said. "The girls are having fun, and they all get along well. They're just a fantastic group to work with.
"It's great that we've got that combination of senior leadership and also a lot of young talent. I think we're going to be good for some time to come."
Next year, Marietta may have the services of Bryce Macatol, who teamed up with Kitchen to win the No. 1 doubles championship in the 2012 Wood County Middle School Tournament. In that same tourney, Macatol was the No. 2 singles final winner.
Macatol did not play this season due to an injury.
As far as Marietta's tennis postseason goes, the sectional tournament is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Canton. The tourney is geared towards individual and not team play.
"The sectional is very tough," Mayer said. "But we'll give it a go, and I think we can do well."
Assisting Mayer is Mike Miller, who guided the Tiger netters to a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL) title in 2009.