When Ashley Hoagland decided to switch from softball to tennis as a freshman, she grabbed her mother's racket for the tryouts. Though the racket was 30 years old and had never been restrung, Hoagland still made the team, which shows how good her skill level is.
Now a senior, Hoagland has a 25-2 record after the No. 10-ranked Chargers beat Bishop Dwenger 4-1 on Wednesday to win the Homestead regional. The Chargers, 21-2, will play in Saturday's Concordia Semistate for the first time and need one win against 14-1 Northridge to advance to state.
``Last year was our first year to win sectionals and we got to regionals, and this year we're going farther and farther,'' Hoagland said.
Though she does not have a long history of playing in offseason junior tournaments and doesn't hit the ball incredibly hard, Hoagland is a big part of the Carroll's success. She is just incredibly efficient.
``Honestly, I don't think she ever misses,'' Chargers No. 1 singles player Rachel Sutton said. ``We call her the backboard because she never misses, she wears people down and she's never tired. She's a hard competitor.''
But Hoagland is also the nicest player on the team. She doesn't talk much, and she's always prepared. Because she doesn't rely on her power and doesn't plan on playing in college next year, Hoagland is atypical for a No. 2 singles player on a top 10 team. Opponents watch her warm up and figure they can blow past her, and after the match they probably figure that's one they should have won.
``She demolishes her opponents,'' Chargers coach Kyle Stoffel said. ``She doesn't let a ball get by her, and when she gets her racket on it, it's going over the net. She gives them no hope.''
Except for the Saints' undefeated No. 1 doubles team of Audrey Rang and Elizabeth Maxson, the Chargers won most of Wednesday's matches easily. Sutton improved to 23-3 and Jenna Jackson to 25-2 in singles, and Audrey Mallers and Makenzie Schoeff are 21-6 and Taylor Stanchin and Catherine Curtis are 23-3 in doubles.
Bishop Dwenger finished 11-5. Maxson and Rang, 22-0, will play Bellmont's Andrea Fruchte and Shelby Kiess, 11-9, today in the individual tournament.
Canterbury's Leah Barnes, 25-0, beat Blackhawk Christian's Morgan Bemisderfer 6-2, 6-0 and Bishop Luers' Natalie Rahrig beat Concordia's Morgan Schlagenhauf 6-3, 6-0 on Wednesday and will play each other today. Huntington North's Kylie Frederick, 13-5, will play the winner on Friday.