The Watterson women’s tennis team doesn’t take what’s at stake seriously every time they step onto the court.
With more than 20 athletes on the program, the Eagles have membership numbers that provide roster flexibility and rival those of Susan Weil’s 11 seasons as head coach.
While building relationships between team members has always been part of its focus, Watterson has also become CCL’s core program. He beat DeSales 3–2 on September 20 at Park of Roses to claim his fifth straight championship.
For players like junior Liz Hohlefelder, getting the attention the Eagles believe they deserve has always felt like an uphill climb.
“Tennis isn’t recognized very much, especially in Watterson, where a lot of people don’t know because we don’t have tennis courts at our school,” said Hohlefelder. “There are (school announcements) that say our record, but it’s definitely hard (getting exposure). We started off strong this year.”
Watterson improved to 5-5 overall and finished 3-0 in the CCL by beating DeSales.
Division I singles and doubles brackets were determined on September 25, and the postseason begins with sectional competition on October 4, 6, and 8 at four locations.
Junior Sara Goodlive, who is in her third season on the lead single, reached the district quarterfinals in 2020 and last fall won the Pickerington Central sectional before losing in the district first round to eventual state playoff Pritika Ghosh Choudhuri of Dublin Coffman.
Hohlefelder was a 2020 district doubles qualifier with her sister, 2021 graduate Claire Hohlefelder. Last fall, Liz Hohlefelder teamed up with Reese Borland to reach the quarterfinals in the sectional.
Borland, a veteran, has spent most of this season in early doubles with Liz Hohlefelder.
“It’s really cool because I’m captain this year and it’s been a really satisfying experience to be here for four years,” said Borland. “We have so many rookies this year, so we can help rookies to be part of the team, learn to have fun, but also to become intense and better teammates. … It’s a lot of fun to be a part of the program, and being able to win for our school is also a great thing, because a lot of people despise tennis, which is really unfortunate.
“Liz has a great backhand and I have a great forehand. We are both good at both and we work well together.”
Sophomore Sophia Blum was in second and third singles for most of the season, with sophomore Molly Nollenberger also having time on third singles.
“It’s going really well,” Blum said. “I had a lot of fun playing second singles. We have a lot of new freshmen and it’s always fun to meet new people.
“I definitely played a lot during the winter and offseason. When I get it right with (Goodlive), I’m really honored because she’s a good player, but it’s also a really good sport.”
Senior Katherine Braidech, who wasted time with injuries and illness, saw action in early singles when Goodlive did not play and also played in second singles and first and second doubles. Braidech teamed up with Grace Sagraves, formed in 2022, to reach last season’s quarter-finals.
Veteran Julia Speicher and freshmen Francie Ciesinski, Hannah Masters and Erin Meury are other contributors.
Against DeSales, Goodlive won the first singles, Braidech won the second singles, and Borland and Liz Hohlefelder’s team won the first doubles.
“It’s going really well,” Weil said. “We had some good matches.”