Rebuilding a program that hasn’t seen much success might be difficult, but the Valpo women’s tennis team is slowly working toward better results.
It’s a program that has no question struggled the past couple of years, with no more than one conference win in each of the past four years.
But while the team as a whole has struggled, there are multiple individuals who are putting together quality careers.
One player in particular has had a fantastic season when it comes to the singles side of things. Sophomore Randi Wind has 10 singles victories and is the first Valparaiso player since 2005-06 with a double-figure win total.
On the doubles side of things, one pairing has had fantastic success. Kathleen Hebble and Paige Heuer are putting together a season to remember thus far, as they have been named Horizon League Doubles Team of the Week twice this year. Along with that, they have 13 wins on the season. They only need one more to move into Valparaiso’s single-season Top 10.
It hasn’t just been this season for this senior pair, either. Heuer has 39 career doubles wins, 8th in program history. Hebble is slightly behind her with 30, which is good for 10th in program history.
So while the overall team success hasn’t been there the past four years, this is a program that has developed players who have put together very good careers.
It’s also important to remember that this is only the second season of head coach Tammy Cecchini. She spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach at Valparaiso before taking over the head coaching job in October of 2015.
Her impact has been felt right away, when she signed two four-star recruits for the 2017-18 season. These are the first four-star recruits in program history.
Claire Czerwonka, who is one of the four-star recruits, is ranked 3rd in the state of Wisconsin, 19th in the Great Lakes Region and 183rd nationally.
Czerwonka has had a dominant tenure at Saint Joseph Catholic Academy, where she compiled an 89-2 record during the 2014-16 seasons. She is a three-time state champion.
The other four-star recruit is Jelena Vujanic, who is coming from Elk Grove, Ill.. The incoming freshman received first-team All-State singles accolades this year, and is ranked 8th in the state of Illinois. Interestingly enough, Vujanic plays tennis left-handed. She will be the only lefty on Valparaiso’s roster.
So while the overall team success hasn’t been there the past few seasons, the future is looking bright for the program. One big way to turn a program around fast is to recruit well, and with two four-star recruits incoming, it seems Tammy Cecchini is doing just that.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.