Marjanovic emerging as top player in Champaign-Urbana

Most recently it was Lindsay Hallett of Champaign Central.

Before that, it was Central's Natalie Tabb.

Now it appears the label of the area's best tennis player has been slapped on Urbana sophomore Katarina Marjanovic.

"She's definitely one of the top ones in the area," Urbana coach Melissa Welch said.

Marjanovic, the 2006 sectional runner-up to Hallett in the singles bracket, is the centerpiece of an Urbana lineup that has undergone a major renovation since last fall, thanks to graduation.

A look at the local Big 12 Conference teams:

CENTENNIAL: First-year coach Jill Harms, a former Central standout, has the most veteran lineup of the local teams. The Chargers, Harms said, have an evenly matched group that should be able to utilize that depth for victories at the lower singles slots.

"We're winning a lot of matches at 3, 4 and 5," Harms said. "Our depth is a strength."

Junior Megan Suchoff leads the way at No. 1. Four of the top five singles players are juniors.

CENTRAL: The Maroons won the sectional by two points over Centennial last fall, but Hallett's graduation has forced a change in the landscape. Coach Gary Day's Maroons are young and inexperienced, but they're eager to learn.

"It's an entirely different group, a new dynamic," Day said. "I'm very, very pleased with the attitude of the kids."

Senior Brittany Penwell has assumed the top singles position, and the veteran has shown significant improvement, Day said.

Freshman Nelli Golmeeva is at No. 4 and shows "nice, natural strokes." Another freshman, Samantha Emery, is playing 5.

URBANA: Marjanovic could be the best the Big 12 has to offer, and she'll get a chance to prove it starting this weekend in Bloomington.

"I'm interested to see how she'll do at Bloomington," Welch said. "That will give us a good idea where she's at. She's definitely improved."

An exchange student from Germany, Mona Schluesing, is at No. 2, and new faces have slid into three of the other four spots.

"It's a different situation for Urbana right now," Welch said. "I graduated five seniors, and all played in the top six. In a way we're looking at a new (lineup), except for Katarina and Hannah (Cao).

"At the same time, I feel like the girls I have – even though they don't have a ton of varsity experience – have the toughness and the drive. I'm interested to see what we can do. I think we'll do OK."

Sections (3):Prep Sports, Sports, Tennis
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Tennis, Sports

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