For The Tribune

Karen Dringenburg knew since her sophomore year at Seymour High School that she wanted to play tennis in college.

She visited several colleges during the past year, and after visiting Franklin she knew it was the perfect fit.

“I chose Franklin because it’s a small school, it’s only an hour away, and I can play tennis, too,” Dringenburg siad.

Dringenburg plans to major in business and take business agriculture classes on the side.

She recently sealed her decision to go to Franklin last week with her parents Dean and Kim Dringenburg, Seymour tennis coaches and teammates, and assistant athletics director Dave Urbanski looking on.

Dringenburg has been playing No. 1 doubles for the Owls since her freshman year.

“I really enjoy doubles in tennis a lot,” Dringenburg said. “I’ll play singles if I have to, and whenever I go to tournaments I’ll play singles and enjoy it, but doubles you really get to be at the net, and you have that chemistry with your partner, and I think it’s more exciting that way. I think doubles matches tend to be more exciting.”

Dringenburg spent a lot of time during the off-season playing tennis at Tipton Lakes in Columbus.

“Tipton Lakes has changed my game completely,” Dringenburg said. “When I was playing volleyball, basketball and tennis, I didn’t get to get much out-of-season time. You have to be out there hitting at least three or four times a week in order to keep playing the way you want to.”

College tennis matches consist of six singles and three doubles matches, and players are allowed to play both singles and doubles in a match.

Franklin was 10-7 in the fall and 3-3 this spring.

Dringenburg said she isn’t sure where she will fit into the lineup with the Grizzlies.

“I know a couple of people up there from Tipton, and I’m really looking forward to having them on my college team,” she said.

“Franklin’s facilities are pretty nice. I enjoyed them a lot.”

Dringenburg played volleyball, basketball and tennis her freshman year at Seymour.

“My sophomore year, when I was at volleyball, the boys tennis sectional was going on outside and someone was ranked out there that was playing,” Dringenburg said.

“I went outside to watch, and we only got to watch a couple points, and that is when I realized, ‘Man, I would rather be hitting tennis balls or managing instead of being inside playing volleyball.’ That is when I realized I had a passion for tennis.”

Dringenburg played basketball only one year in high school. She was boys’ tennis manager for two years.

Owls co-coach Nate Otte said Dringenburg meant a lot to the school’s tennis program during her career.

“Karen is one of a few girls who have started to play tennis year-round, and have seen when you take the time in the off-season to work on your game, how you can accelerate from your freshman year to your senior year to really being one of the top tennis players in the region, and it’s exciting to see for the program,” Otte said.

“In college you have to play both singles and doubles, so her experience has prepared her well because she plays doubles for us during the season, and off-season she plays a lot of tournaments that are singles, so she’ll be ready to fit into Franklin really well.”

Co-coach Jennifer Miller said she feels Dringenburg has the mindset to be successful at the next level.

“I think she has the personality that will jell well with her teammates,” Miller said. “I think that she has very strong leadership qualities, she’s a very well-rounded student. She’s very active in many things in school and FFA in leadership roles, and then on the tennis courts as well.

“I think that will help make her a big, contributing factor to their program and allow her to be successful academically, too.”

Miller recalled coaching Dringenburg at Cortland Elementary School.

“She has always been a good student,” Miller said. “She is very motivated when it comes to things that she considers to be very important to her, and she is very driven in that way. I think she has big plans for things she would like to do once she gets out of college. So hopefully she’ll make the best of herself the next four years.”

Dringenburg said that while Seymour strengthened its schedule this spring, she would like to see it stronger during the middle of the season.

The senior won the Shelbyville and Providence both the past three years and helped the Owls win four straight sectional titles.

“I really enjoy tennis, and I think it will be a good fit for me,” Dringenburg said. “Tennis is my passion.”