Kapaun girls tennis focused on better state finish
Allie Schulte is irked anytime she thinks about her fifth-place finish in singles at last year’s Class 5A tennis tournament.
Schulte, now a senior at Kapaun Mount Carmel, could point out that she lost to the eventual winner, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Lauren Huddlestun, in the quarterfinals and played her close.
But Schulte doesn’t mention it.
“I was really upset about it,” she said. “It still upsets me to this day. I was really disappointed that I didn’t win (in the quarterfinals). I look at finishing fifth as being pretty bad for me. I was hoping to get first or second.”
Adding to her frustration was Kapaun failed to defend its team title, finishing 17 points behind winner — and cross-town rival — Bishop Carroll.
Last season’s disappointments have fueled Kapaun, though.
The Crusaders return their top seven players, including Schulte, a contender to win the 5A singles title. Also back is junior Elizabeth Pringle, who won a doubles title in 2011 and finished second in doubles last year with sophomore Carmen Mindt.
“I have pretty high expectations,” Schulte said. “I’m hoping to get a win as a team at state, and I hope I can get first (in singles).… I think our team is pretty strong. Everyone practiced a lot this summer, and we’re returning about everyone the same as last year. And everyone got better over the summer.”
Schulte increased her time on the court in the summer, playing two or three hours a day and competing in five tournaments.
“I had kind of slacked off a little bit (in the summer of 2012),” Schulte said. “I think this summer, I started thinking about college and I stepped it up a lot.”
Kapaun coach Kathy Schulte, Allie’s mom, hit with her daughter recently.
“My wrist hurts,” Kathy Schulte said. “She hits the ball hard, and it has a lot of top spin. I would rather someone hit it flat at me and hard. But when it spins like that, it’s hard to track it.
“She has more in her repertoire. She can mix it up, she can slice it.”
Outside of her daughter, Schulte isn’t sure what she’ll do with the rest of her lineup. There’s a possibility Pringle might want to play singles.
But moving Pringle from doubles would be a tough decision.
“Her doubles game is the best … in the city,” Schulte said. “You could pretty much put anyone with her, and she makes it look easy.”
“It’s an honor to play with her on No. 1 doubles,” Mindt said. “Not only is she a great player, no matter who she plays with, she’s there keeping up the confidence, the energy. A lot of people on the team want to play with her.”
Pringle mainly played singles before high school, but she adapted quickly to doubles. She focuses on her baseline and net play, critical aspects of doubles.
Schulte envisions Mindt and Pringle playing doubles together again because she knows how well they play with each other.
Kapaun also will rely on senior Allegra Morton, sophomore Allie Gahagan and senior Katie Wallace.
Schulte isn’t sure what her final lineup will be, but she’s confident in this group.
“We have to set the record straight (at state),” she said. “We need to redeem ourselves. In my mind, I feel we have the talent to do that. We have to come up with the right matchup, and everyone has to play their game and play well at the right moment.”