College often means transitions and adjustments, especially when it comes to student-athletes and new teammates. But the Sauk Valley women's tennis team didn't really have to worry much about that this season.
With four players from Sterling High School, three from Newman, and one from Dixon, there was a lot of familiarity when the Skyhawks first got together over the summer.
That's especially true for the three sophomores on this year's squad. Ashlyn Berogan, Molly Hendricks and Gabi Trujillo have been together since high school, starting as teammates for the Golden Warriors.
"It's nice to be out here with girls I've known for a while," Hendricks said. "I've played with them before, we already get along really well, and having those high school friends there with you makes things a lot smoother going into college."
"You have someone you can talk to who's going through the same thing," Trujillo said, "and we can stick together and not be as intimidated to meet new teammates because we're doing it together."
Trujillo and Berogan, especially, have been a team for quite some time. Best friends since they were 6 years old, the two have played doubles together the last 3 years, since their junior season at Sterling.
Needless to say, it's a partnership that knows how to have success. The duo finished first at No. 3 doubles at last year's Region IV Tournament, and is hoping to have that same kind of success at No. 2 doubles this fall.
"It's a lot of fun; it's really nice to have that comfort level with each other," Berogan said. "We have good communication, and we're very comfortable together and confident in each other."
"It's really cool to have somebody out there you can really rely on," Trujillo added. "We've got our timing down, we know what each other can do, and we'll fight through everything together."
As Berogan did last year, Trujillo and Hendricks will be playing both singles and doubles for the first time this season. Hendricks, who played only singles last year, will team up with freshman Mary Alice Oswalt at No. 1 doubles, and also hold down the No. 6 singles spot.
It's a welcome addition for Hendricks, who says she prefers doubles … something coach Sara Kipping didn't find out until after she inserted her into the singles lineup a year ago.
"Doubles is more interesting; you can hit a lot more kinds of shots," Hendricks said. "Plus, you have somebody else out there to rely on, and it gives you a little more leeway. If you miss a shot or two, you have someone else out there to back you up."
Berogan feels the opposite way. Having played both singles and doubles a year ago, and even having the same doubles partner for the past 3 years, Berogan – who will play No. 2 singles this season – likes the challenge of being out there alone during a tough singles match.
"You're out there playing for yourself, seeing what you're made of," Berogan said. "I don't want to sound selfish, but it's fun relying on yourself. Plus, I don't have to worry about letting someone else down if I'm not playing great."
Like her best friend, Trujillo is also excited about her chance to play singles. As a doubles-only player in high school, Trujillo is eager to see how she stacks up when she's on the court by herself.
"I'm really ready for singles, really looking forward to it," said Trujillo, who will play from the No. 4 singles spot. "I want to see how I do, and what it's like going head-to-head with another player. I think it's going to be a fun year."
Skyhawks by the numbers
• 3 sophomores, 5 freshmen
• 4 from Sterling HS, 3 from Newman HS, 1 from Dixon HS
• 21st season for coach Sara Kipping, who placed 2nd at regionals as a member of Sauk's first national qualifying team in 1983
• 5 of 8 meets this season at home, plus hosting the Region IV Tournament
2014 Sauk Valley Skyhawks
Coach: Sara Kipping (21st season)
Name Year HS
Ashlyn Berogan So. Sterling
Molly Hendricks So. Sterling
Gabi Trujillo So. Sterling
Christina Long Fr. Newman
Mary Alice Oswalt Fr. Newman
Lupita Serrano Fr. Newman
Tessa Trujillo Fr. Sterling
Jessica VanOosten Fr. Dixon
Sat., Sept. 6 Moraine Valley 10:30 a.m.
Fri., Sept. 12 Rock Valley 3 p.m.
Mon., Sept. 15 at DuPage 4 p.m.
Wed., Sept. 17 Waubonsee 3:45 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 20 McHenry 10:30 a.m.
Sun., Sept 28 at Illinois Valley 11 a.m.
Tues., Sept. 30 Oakton 3 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 3 at Elgin 4 p.m.
Oct. 10-11 Region IV Tournament, at SVCC