Hickerson peaking for Vandals

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By Andrew Harner

In what coach Kevin Schroeder called “gut-wrenching” time, junior Abby Hickerson missed three returns in a row during doubles play against Shelbyville on Tuesday.


With the Vandals needing to win all three of its doubles games to win the match, allowing Shelbyville to tie up that game at 8-8 did not help Schroeder’s already twisted stomach.

“This is the most intense match we’ve had, because if we win all three, we win the whole match,” Schroeder said. “When all three are within one game of each other, I’m even nervous.”

But then Hickerson did what she does best – erasing her own mistakes.

At the service for the next point, Hickerson smashed four consecutive serves across for scores, allowing her and Callie George to regain their lead.

The duo then rallied back during Shelbyville’s next serve, eventually taking the match to deuce, allowing Hickerson to send a shot in between Shelbyville’s Stephanie Large and Mallory Jetson to win the game 10-8.

“Abby will make a couple shots that won’t go her way, but that doesn’t phase her,” Schroeder said. “She’s able to shut it off and move on to the next point.”

Vandalia did lose the match, 5-4, but without inspired play like that shown by Hickerson, it easily could have been a 6-3 or 7-2 defeat.

Hickerson is one of the tallest players on the team, and she uses that height and her wide wingspan to intimidate opponents at the net, making her a valuable doubles player.

But like most tennis players, sometimes she tries to force a power shot close to the net when she should just get the ball in play.

“There’s time when she hits the hard shot, but more often, you have to let up a little bit and keep the ball in play,” Schroeder said. “But I love her aggressiveness at the net, which is intimidating to her opponent.”

That’s not to say she isn’t a good singles player though.

Splitting the No. 6 duties with Brittany Moulton this season, Hickerson has shown promise in some of her recent singles games, including a 10-3 win against East Alton-Wood River on Monday and a 6-4, 4-6, 5-7 loss against Hillsboro last week.

“Right now, she is a better doubles players,” Schroeder said. “But her singles play is coming around.”

Hickerson is expected to be one of the top returners for Schroeder next season, and if she continues to progress at the rate she has, there’s no reason to think she can’t have a successful senior year.

Tuesday, Oct. 5
vs. Shelbyville
Shelbyville 5
Vandalia 4

No. 1 Natasha Opfer (V) def. Stephanie Large; 10-1
No. 2 Lauren Wasmuth (V) lost to Bridgette Depew; 3-10
No. 3 Cassie Goodin (V) lost to Hailey Nichols; 8-10
No. 4 Micah Dugan (V) lost to Katie Denton; 5-10
No. 5 Callie George (V) def. Kaitlyn Ogden; 10-4
No. 6 Abby Hickerson (V) lost to Mallory Jetson; 0-10

No. 1 Opfer/Wasmuth (V) def. Depew/Nichols; 11-10 (7-3)
No. 2 Goodin/Dugan (V) lost to Denton/Ogden; 7-10
No. 3 George/Hickerson (V) def. Large/Jetson; 10-8

JV Doubles
No. 1 Jenna Telger/Kayla Murray lost 4-6
No. 2 Brittany Cook/Erika Blackwell won 6-4
No. 3 Chelsey Stewart/Karlee Brimberry won 6-0
No. 4 Emilie Britt/Jordan Boren lost 5-6
No. 5 Paige Ehrat/Bailey Jones won 7-0

Monday, Oct. 4
at East Alton-Wood River
Vandalia 7

No. 1 Opfer def. Kylie Rhoades; 10-5
No. 2 Wasmuth def. Kristin Kirsch; 10-5
No. 3 Goodin def. Ashley Sneed; 10-6
No. 4 Dugan def. Sandy Pham; 10-3
No. 5 George lost to Abby Mandel; 3-10
No. 6 Hickerson def. Jessie Lee; 10-3

No. 1 Opfer/Wasmuth def. Rhoades/Kirsch; 8-2
No. 2 Goodin/Dugan lost to Snead/Pham; 6-8
No. 3 George/Hickerson def. Mandel/Jessica Hair; 8-2

JV Doubles
No. 1 Ehrat/Jones won 8-2

Thursday, Sept. 30
vs. Marquette
Marquette 9
Vandalia 0

No. 1 Opfer lost to Caroline Claywell; 1-6, 0-6
No. 2 Wasmuth lost to Anna Morrison; 0-6, 0-6
No. 3 Goodin lost to Claire Morrison; 0-6, 0-6
No. 4 Dugan lost to Kate Randolph; 0-6, 0-6
No. 5 George lost to Alexis Silkwood; 0-6, 0-6
No. 6 Hickerson lost to Emily Repking; 1-6, 0-6

No. 1 Opfer/Wasmuth lost 1-10
No. 2 Goodin/Dugan lost 0-10
No. 3 George/Hickerson lost  1-10