Jean Schnellbacher has built the Notre Dame-West Burlington girls tennis team into one of the top programs in southeast Iowa over the course of her seven years as head coach of the Nikes.

With five of their top six players back from last year's 7-3 team which advanced to the state quarterfinals as a team, the Nikes are looking to take another step or two and push for a spot at state.

And the doubles team of seniors Lydia Becker and Claire Hackenmiller will be looking to make it three trips to state in a row.

Schnellbacher and the Nikes are hoping that adds up to a banner season on the courts.

"We're looking forward to this season," Schnellbacher said. "I feel pretty good about it. I've got a lot of seniors this year who are involved in a lot of things between dance team, Disney World and the senior trip to New York. It's going to be challenging, but it should be another fun season."

Becker and Hackenmiller are not only one of the top doubles teams in the state, but also are the Nikes' top two singles players. Junior McKenzie Fry will step into the No. 3 singles spot which was vacated by the graduation of Delaney Williams.

Senior Riley Brueck has earned the No. 4 singles spot, followed by seniors Kennedy Rheinschmidt and Makenna Davis.

Senior Bethany Shane and freshmen Kadence Johnson and Alyssa Dameron are pushing Davis for the No. 6 spot, a battle that could continue all season.

Schnellbacher said the veteran players have been working on their own games and helping the younger players learn.

"We don't have to spend a lot of time working on form with the older players," Schnellbacher said. "I spend one day with them and then let them go on their own and I work with the new players. They are also trying to teach the younger players, which is nice to see."

The Nikes started the season with a 9-0 win over Mount Pleasant, but have not played a match since. Schnellbacher is hoping that will change this week with the arrival of warmer temperatures.

"This is going to be a challenging year," Schnellbacher said. "I am looking forward to getting a few matches in and seeing what I have this year. It should be fun."