The last time Emma Wood played singles on Seymour’s girls’ tennis team, it was her first year with the program.
Her sophomore year, she changed pace moving into the No. 1 doubles spot with former teammate Karen Dringenburg — creating one of the most formidable duos in the state.
Playing doubles, she rarely lost any matches with a top-tier teammate.
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By the end of her junior year, she had amassed a 60-5 record — one of, if not the, best winning percentages in school history.
This past spring, Wood advanced to the IHSAA’s doubles state championship final four with Dringenburg: The first pair to make it that far in history of doubles at Seymour.
Her success earned her all-state team honors.
Now, Wood will go back to where it all started, with Dringenburg graduated, as she will be playing No. 1 singles for the Owls this spring — challenging the best individual player from the opposing team in each match.
Changing from doubles to singles is a big adjustment for a high school tennis player.
“(Wood) had a partner on the court for the past two years to keep the momentum going,” Owls coach Jennifer Miller said. “Everything is going to be focused on her mental game this first two weeks. She’s prepared for it. She will just need to have that mindset that she can win at No. 1 singles.
“I really think that it has to be in the match where she works on her mental game. Each opponent is different. Being able to read and opponent and attack their weakness is going to be important.”
Last season, Wood got a late start to the season after breaking her collarbone in a non-tennis related injury.
In a practice earlier this week, she said that she feels better prepared for the season with more conditioning and live-action practices under her belt.
Wood, an All-Hoosier Hills Conference honoree in 2015, said that the change will be a big adjustment from playing with a partner on the court.
While playing in the No. 1 spot will prove difficult, Wood has spent numerous hours on the court outside of the season working on her singles game.
“I’m going to have to work on keeping the ball in the court and not going for lines,” Wood said. “I will need better ball movement playing singles.”
She said she has played in Columbus three to four times a week since the summer and traveled to play in United State Tennis Association tournaments.
With a fairly young roster, featuring two seniors and a handful of juniors, Wood looks to step up for the team this season.
“I’m looking forward to kind of stepping into a leadership role, I think,” Wood said. “I want to support the younger kids and getting them better.”
The Owls graduated three seniors last season, and Miller thinks Wood and fellow-senior Lindsey Hume will need to step-up in 2016.
“What I really want to see from Emma is for her to become more vocal,” Miller said. “We need her to motivate the girls who are younger coming through the program. She and (Hume) have big senior shoes to fill.”
Looking at this year’s schedule, Wood said she looks forward to the Bloomington Invitational.
“I’m looking forward to the tournament in Bloomington since I didn’t get to play last year with my broken collarbone,” Wood said. “I feel a lot better going into this year.”
Last season, the Owls finished 19-3 in team play, winning 16 matches by scores of 5-0 while finishing as sectional and HHC champions.
Name: Emma Wood
Parents: Sharon and Bob Wood
Sports: One year volleyball; two years soccer; four years tennis
Athletics highlights: 2015 state final four (doubles), 2014 and 2015 team MVP, 2015 All-State team, 2014 All-State Honorable Mention
Organizations: 4-H, National Honor Society
Plans after high school: Attend Marian University to play tennis and study elementary education
Favorite food: Watermelon
Favorite TV Show: “Gossip Girls”
Favorite band: Maroon 5
Favorite movie: “Mamma Mia”
Favorite athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo