New faces are ushering in a new era for Miamisburg girls tennis.
“Last year, people thought it would be an easy win if they played Miamisburg,” sophomore Mikaela Hindenlang said. “But people are starting to notice that Miamisburg is really good this year.”
Sparked by a trio of young singles players, the Vikings, 15-3, recently earned a No. 1 ranking in the Division I area coaches poll for the first time in decades. Freshman Carley Sickinger (16-2), Hindenlang (15-2) and freshman Jada Strickland (16-1) — the Vikings’ top three singles players, respectively — are all ranked among the top singles players in the area.
“People know we’ve gotten better and that our singles is stronger than it used to be,” Strickland said.
The Vikings, 11-9 last season, can no longer fly under the radar.
“It’s no secret that we’re a much better team than we have been,” Miamisburg coach Sean Ridley said. “We may have surprised a few teams early on, but I knew we were going to be good because I knew we had a lot of talent coming in.”
First singles player Sickinger, who has been ranked in the top 100 in the Midwest in the 16-and-under category, has been playing tennis since she was in the third grade. But it is about more than wins and losses for the Vikings rookie.
“The best part for me has been becoming part of the team and making new friends,” she said.
Camaraderie has been a major contributing factor to the Vikings success this season.
“The whole atmosphere is different this year,” Hindenlang said. “The ability to connect with each other is really important. We see each other as friends, not just competition.”
That’s not to say, the competitive spirit isn’t there.
“These girls continually want to get better,” Ridley said. “They have matured very quickly.”
If the Vikings can close out the season with wins against West Carrollton and Lakota West this week, they will match the school record, set in the 1980s, for wins in a season with 17.