With 45 girls in the program, Stoughton girls tennis was faced with a good problem.
The Vikings had to add a third coach due to the increased numbers, much to the delight of varsity head coach Amy Kahl.
Stoughton returns 11 letterwinners from last year’s team, which finished in the middle of the pack in the Badger South Conference. The Vikings lost just three players to graduation, but they were key pieces — the top two singles players and half of the No. 1 doubles team.
“We’ll be a little raw,” Kahl said. “We’re experienced in the fact that we have a bunch of seniors, but we don’t have a lot of varsity match experience. Of the 11 returning, five of them were shuffled between JV and varsity No. 3 doubles.”
Kahl, who is entering her second season as the varsity head coach after eight seasons as an assistant, will be faced with tough lineup choices. She could have doubles players step into singles play to fill spots left by graduation, or allow returners to stay at doubles.
“If I put our strength in singles, we could get four wins there pretty regularly. If I balance things out, it could be tougher to get four wins, even though there won’t be much of a drop-off between our Nos. 2 and 3 doubles. I have to talk with the girls and be considerate of what their goals are.”
Kahl anticipates the Vikings settling back into a familiar spot in the conference race, with Madison Edgewood, Monona Grove and Watertown set to contend for the top spot.
“I’m guessing we’ll be middle of the road,” Kahl said. “We’ll compete against everybody because we have good, athletic girls. That’s all I can ask for out of them.”
Stoughton started practice Tuesday, Aug. 13, and will begin its regular season Saturday morning at the Madison La Follette Invitational. Kahl said she’s more concerned about effort early on than wins and losses.
“We get a lot of girls that don’t play other sports,” she said. “I don’t necessarily give them goals. Some have goals that don’t even concern varsity. I just ask that they give their best effort and make tennis a priority when they’re on the courts.”