Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
There are many clear differences between high school tennis and collegiate tennis.
The ability level of the players is greater, there are more difficult academic demands, travel takes up much more of your time and the athletes play both a singles match and a doubles match every day.
Battles for roster spots are also much more competitive, with the strong influx of foreign players and the fact that many colleges do not field teams.
Terre Haute North grad Sarah Potter recently completed the fall season of her freshman year for Marian University’s women’s team, and seems to have figured things out pretty quickly.
Potter finished 11-1 at No. 4 singles and 14-4 at No. 1 doubles and was named to the all-Mid-Central College Conference team.
Marian Coach Cassie Mackell notes that only 12 people make the all-conference team from the nine schools, and Potter was close to extending her season beyond the regular schedule in just her first year.
“Sarah has had a fantastic fall season,” Mackell said. “Her only singles loss was in the regular season in which she came back and beat her in straight sets in the conference tournament.
“In doubles, she and her partner [Olivia Pursell of Westfield] made it all the way to the finals of the ITA Regional Tournament. Sarah has had a stellar freshman year so far.”
Potter is pleased with performance this fall, but knows she has things to improve on as her career progresses.
“Considering it is my freshman year, I believe that I played well,” she said. “At times I got nervous, but I was able to pull it out in the majority of my matches.
“This fall season was the first time I had actually played competitive doubles,” Potter added. “In high school, I always played singles, and when I got to college I earned the spot of one doubles. I need to improve on my doubles skills, but with the help of both my experienced coaches and talented team I feel I will be able to do this come spring.”
Earning all-conference honors so early in her career was also very exciting for Potter, and she also likes the opportunity to play at venues all over the Midwest.
“It is a great honor,” she said. “I have worked really hard in my tennis career and being named one out of the twelve conference women is very exciting.
“The atmosphere in college tennis is a lot different,” Potter added. “Personally, my college tennis experience has been a lot more fun because we get to travel as a team outside of the state and play better competition.”
Potter is majoring in nursing, and has earned the respect of her coach in a short time.
“Sarah is a hard worker in the classroom and on the tennis court and is a perfect example of what our team is about,” Mackell said. “At Marian University, we stress academic performance first and tennis second.
“The ladies on our tennis team have great heads on their shoulders and have a great competitive spirit which is hard to teach. Sarah is a great fit for our program, and I only hope to get more people like Sarah on the team in the future.”
Perhaps one of those could be Sarah’s younger sister, Anna — a junior at Terre Haute North who won the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference No. 2 singles title last spring. The Potter girls are part of a college sports family, as their father, Corey, was a two-year letterman kicker for ISU’s football team in his college years and hit 8 of 10 field goals in 1987.
I I I
n Bits and pieces — One player was omitted in last month’s recap of college football players.
Northview grad John Rollings is a freshman offensive tackle at Hope College in Michigan.
He has played on the JV team this season, but the 6-8, 270-pounder will undoubtedly get a future look at the varsity level for the NAIA school after numerous knee surgeries limited his high school career.
n Former local volleyballers continue to do well in college. Jessica Coombs of West Vigo and her Wallace State (Ala.) team have rolled on to a 24-0 record this year, while Terre Haute South grad Brittany Pugh and the Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.) Railsplitters are 13-4.
n Terre Haute North senior Ross Sponsler recently visited Hanover while still deciding upon his college basketball home. He has also had talks with Army about playing at West Point.
n South grad A.J. Reed is one of seven University of Kentucky signees who were chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft but chose not to sign and join the Wildcats. The recruiting class has been ranked as one of the top 25 in the country.
“We are excited to welcome a special group to Kentucky,” Coach Gary Henderson said. “This is an extremely talented a group of newcomers and we are really looking forward to working with them.”
Eight other returning players were also drafted in June but chose to return, giving Henderson a roster with half of its members having been previously drafted.
Reed hit a pair of home runs in an intrasquad game this fall, and is expected to see duty both on the mound and at first base next spring.
n Former Terre Haute North and Indiana State football standout Jamie Petrowski is continuing his professional career as a member of the Los Angeles Locomotives of the United Football League.
Recently, Las Vegas defeated Omaha 30-10 and Petrowski caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Petrowski had been a member of the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad for several years, and that spot ironically now belongs to former Terre Haute resident James Kirkendoll — a former University of Texas standout.
n Former Indiana State woman’s basketball coach Cheryl Reeve was named the WNBA “Coach of the Year” in 2011 and last week led the Minnesota Lynx to the WNBA championship.
Another former ISU head coach has resumed his coaching career, as Jim Wiedie returned to his Ohio roots when he was hired in August as an assistant coach at Findlay College.
Wiedie spent last season as a volunteer assistant coach at Otterbein College and was the head coach at Indiana State University from 2000-2010, leaving as the program’s all-time leader in wins with 166.
Holding an overall coaching mark of 166-118, Wiedie guided the Sycamores to Missouri Valley Conference regular season championships in 2003 and 2006, and was named the conference Coach of the Year in both seasons. He also earned the WBCA Region VI Coach of the Year award in 2006.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at email@example.com.