TERRE HAUTE —
Many Division I women’s tennis programs are dominated by foreign players from all over the globe, yet a pair of blonde-haired American girls from the Wabash Valley took their games to Indianapolis this year and had dominant seasons on the collegiate courts.
Terre Haute South grad Hunter Bullock manned the No. 1 singles spot for a rising IUPUI program this year, leading the team in victories. She was honored by the Summit League coaches as a first-team all-conference selection.
Long-time foe Brittany Farmer of Terre Haute North put down roots a few miles north of Bullock on the Butler campus and she also recorded the most singles victories for her team this season.
Bullock was one of the main reasons the Jaguars improved to 3-5 in Summit League play this season, just two games shy of reaching The Summit League Tournament. The record was the program’s best in three seasons.
Bullock went 10-11 overall and was 2-3 in Summit League action at No. 1 singles, and partnered with fellow freshman Shelby Hullett to post a 4-1 conference record in eight doubles matches.
“Hunter has been a great addition to our IUPUI tennis team,” Jaguars’ Coach Cameron Benjamin said. “Putting in extra work during practice and outside of practice, she has definitely worked to get to her potential. With her experience and success this year, making All-Summit League and leading this young team with the most wins.
“She will be great at the top AGAIN next year.”
Bullock said her goal for this season, following her outstanding South career, was “just hoping to play well” and that she learned a lot in her freshman year that led her to make some changes and improve her game.
“I learned that you can’t play like you did in high school or in juniors,” Bullock said. “You have to mix it up, and you have to be able to change and be coachable.
“We have a great coach, and she’s very easy to talk to,” Bullock continued. “If you need help, she’s is there to help you succeed on the court.”
Bullock considers herself as a “hard hitter” who prefers to play from the baseline. After a few matches, she realized that strategy was no longer effective.
“I could win in juniors like that, but in college I now have to lob, slice, and come to the net a lot more,” she said. “I’m going to keep working on that in the summer, and hopefully I will improve for the next three years.”
Besides playing in some summer tournaments, Bullock will also be passing along some of her newfound knowledge to younger sister Taylor, a junior standout at South and perhaps a future teammate.
“I’m going to play doubles with her this summer,” Hunter said. “I try to help her the best I can.
“We will be working on some drills and some new things I have learned,” she continued. “I know the coach here is looking at her already.”
Farmer recorded a team-high 19 wins in singles, going 1-3 at No. 4, 5-3 at No. 5 and 7-4 at No. 6. She also had a 14-13 doubles record, going 10-8 at No. 2 for most of those decisions.
She defeated Zlatka Petrova 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6 singles for the only Bulldog victory in a 4-1 loss to defending league champion Illinois-Chicago in the Horizon League Women’s Tennis semifinals.
Farmer picked up steam down the stretch, going 8-2 in her last 10 singles matches of the year.
“Brittany was very good for us this season,” Butler Coach Jason Suscha said. “She made a significant jump in her footwork as the season progressed and as her footwork continues to improve she will become very tough to beat.
“She brought a very positive ‘can do’ work ethic every day, and she was more competitive than I originally thought she would be,” Suscha said. “I am very excited for Brittany’s future and I look forward to helping her develop as a player and person.”
• Rehmel to USI — Former Olney Community College standout Jared Rehmel has transferred from Division I Central Arkansas to Southern Indiana to conclude his collegiate career next winter.
Rehmel played in 30 games last season for the Bears, starting 29, while averaging 9.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. He had a season-high 21 points against the University of Tennessee-Martin.
“Jared wanted to finish his career closer to home and we welcome him to USI,” said coach Rodney Watson. “Jared is a very good shooter and we need that skill. We feel his competitive personality matches ours. He is excited to begin summer school with his new teammates, which will give them time to blend together.”
New OCC women’s coach Clint Burris has wasted no time in attracting Wabash Valley talent to his rebuilding program, recently signing Alicia Tally of White River Valley and Marki Collins of Shakamak.
Only one player is returning from this season’s team, so Burris is basically rebuilding his entire roster from scratch.
Tally averaged 18.5 points per game last year for the Wolverines.
“We’re very excited to have Alicia,” Burris told the Greene County Daily World. “Obviously being new to the girl’s program we’ve relied on a lot of word of mouth and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Alicia.”
Tally likes everything about OCC.
“It’s just more convenient, it’s close to home and everyone can come watch,” she said. “The program looks like it’s going the right direction and I’m willing to work hard to win games.”
Collins missed a lot of her senior season due to a knee injury, but Burris is looking forward to getting her post skills.
“She’s obviously had a great career here at Shakamak,” Burris said. “She can shoot it, which is definitely what we need. I think she’ll be a great fit for our program.”
Collins is looking forward to her collegiate career.
“I like playing with a team and that’ll be easy actually,” Collins said. “It’ll be good to play with different girls.”
• Newell steps down — North Vermillion graduate Mike Newell has resigned as the head men’s basketball coach at Division II Arkansas-Monticello after nine seasons, effective in June.
“I’ve made a very difficult decision to resign my position of head men’s basketball coach at UAM. I will continue to support Chancellor Lassiter and UAM for the rest of my life, because UAM is a very special place to me,” Newell said in his resignation letter. “My future plans are to continue to conduct my basketball camps nationwide and to pursue other jobs in Division I and Division II.”
Newell became UAM’s 13th men’s basketball coach in 2001. In nine seasons, Newell led the Boll Weevils to an overall record of 126-123, boosting his career record to 302-226 in 18 years. He earned his 300th win with a 75-72 overtime victory over Henderson State on February 18.
Newell led the Boll Weevils to their first-ever NCAA Regional Tournament in 2006, reaching the Sweet 16 after knocking off then-ranked No. 1 Delta State on the Statesmen’s home court in the regional semifinals. His 2008-09 squad climbed to as high as No. 5 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll after a school-record 9-0 start.
Newell’s 2009-10 squad posted a 14-11 overall record and earned the program’s seventh berth in the Gulf South Conference Championship Tournament.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.