When Sam Hopp was hired at his alma mater Sheboygan North as its girls tennis coach in the summer, no one knew if there would even be a season.
“I was pretty ecstatic when I got the job,” he said. “Because I hadn’t played tennis before high school, really. The courts where I learned to play tennis I’d now be teaching on, which is pretty cool. So I was pretty excited regardless of how the season looked.
“When I found out the season was postponed, I was confused on how that would work but really just kind of more excited because I honestly anticipated that there would be no season. Everything I had seen was like, ‘we don’t know if we’re ever actually get to play.’
“And having players last year that I had coached that lost out on their senior season because of COVID, when we found out the season had been moved and we’d still play, I was more just relieved for the players than anything else.”
Hopp, a three-year varsity player at North who was captain as a junior and senior before graduating in 2016, was an assistant coach at Edgerton.
He replaces Andrew Bayliss (he moved to Florida) and makes his head coaching debut in the season opener Friday.
Hopp is in his final semester at UW-Whitewater but lives in Sheboygan because classes have been virtual all year.
Two key players are back, including junior Louisa Damkot, who advanced to state singles a year ago. She will battle twin sister Cordelia Damkot for the No. 1 and 2 singles spots.
“I have pretty high expectations for both of them,” Hopp said. “I hope they both make state and I expect them to have pretty good records this year.”
Ashwini Murthy graduated after making the state tournament the last two years. Her partner last season, Cadi Zhang, decided not to play her senior year.
Senior Sara Miesner begins her fourth varsity season after leading the Redwings with nine wins last year.
This year, she will compete for the No. 1 flight.
“She has been a pleasure to coach and I’m looking forward to her senior year,” coach Peter Kautzer said.
Vanessa Ziegler was No. 1 last season but she is one of seven seniors that graduated.
AT A GLANCE
• Sam Hopp is the new coach, replacing Andrew Bayliss because he moved.
• Junior Louisa Damkot returns after advancing to state singles last season.
• The team finished third in the conference after taking first the previous year for the first time since 2007.
• The squad has to replace seven seniors, including No. 1 singles player Vanessa Ziegler.
• Senior Sara Miesner had a team-high nine wins last year and is a four-year varsity player.
• Elizabeth Santana is another senior singles player, and two doubles players also return: seniors Cynthia Hang and Maddie Vang.