COLUMBIA CITY — Columbia City’s girls tennis team may not return a lot of experience to this year’s squad — but interest is on the rise.

Though only two return from the varsity team from last season, 28 girls came out for the team this year.

“We are going to keep them all to continue to build our team up,” head coach Phil Stanczak said. “In 2020, we will not only have a new school, but 10 new tennis courts.”

The program is gaining interest at the middle school level as well, recently starting a program to help netters learn to play before they get to the high school level.

Grace Cotter and Hailey Cearbaugh return as varsity players, and Stanczak is tasked with filling the remaining varsity slots after a group of experienced seniors graduated out of the team.

“I lost a group of seniors and a couple returning seniors this year, which leaves me a hole to fill this year,” Stanczak said.

Bigger than the problem of filling the roster is making a lot of practices and matches fit into a short timespan.

“One of our biggest problems is the season itself — the weather is always a problem and it makes it difficult to get the practice we need,” Stanczak said. “Then, once the season starts, we play a lot of matches so the season goes really quick.”

How does the coach combat this? He spends more time working on technique, which can be done indoors and outdoors.

The team begins its season March 27, weather permitting, at Bishop Luers. The Eagles play their first home match against Manchester on April 10.