FORTVILLE — Winners of nine straight sectional titles and returning every starter from last season’s team, there were already high expectations for the 2024 Mt. Vernon girls tennis team.

Now they’re even higher.

With the addition of an all-state move-in and extremely talented exchange student, veteran head coach Gabe Muterspaugh has a lot to be excited about when his team opens the regular season Wednesday, at home, against Cathedral.

“My excitement is so high that I got put on blood pressure medicine recently,” Muterspaugh said. “I’m so excited. It’s very easy to go out every day [to practice]. It’s a great group of girls and they go to work. They are pumped and focused and I’m about as excited as I’ve been in 28 years, almost like a first-year type thing for me because it’s so fun and competitive. They are really locked in.”

Six-foot-tall sophomore Caroline Allen moved in from Brownsburg. As a freshman, she was an all-state doubles player with her sister. She has the upperhand on being the team’s No. 1 singles player.

Ginny Morelli is an Italian foreign exchange student brought up on the clay courts of Europe. Muterspaugh calls her a “5-3 dynamo” that “pops the ball big-time.” She is currently handling the No. 2 spot.

Junior Kylie Brandes has been the team’s No. 1 singles player for the last two years. A two-time all-stater, Brandes is likely going to move to No. 1 doubles.

There are a number of possible double combinations. Brandes’s partner, and the No. 2 doubles team, will come from last year’s No. 2 singles player Ava Lusby or any of the four players that played varsity doubles last year, Carmen Lugo, Kim Joubert, Addison Lockwood and Sophie Maxwell.

Lockwood and Maxwell were 19-5 last year at No. 2 doubles.

Maria Downs is back at No. 3 singles where she was also 19-5 last year.

“We’re going to have so many options,” Muterspaugh added. “[We’re] probably going to continue to mix it up and see where the best lineup is. It may change on a nightly basis.

“We’ve got nine players for seven spots. There are some battles going on.”

The coach said, along with the two talented newcomers, all of his returnees played a lot of tennis in the offseason, adding to the competitiveness of practice.

“It’s kind of fun to be looking at, I think, between a top 10 or top 20 team in the state,” he said of the Marauders. “It’s pretty fun to go out to practice and it looks like a college practice.”

Along with winning the sectional, the Marauders were 17-7 last year. All seven of the losses came to Top 25 teams.

The interest in tennis is high in the school system. Muterspaugh has 36 on his roster and there are currently 30 players trying out for the middle school team, which has gone undefeated the last two seasons.

Though it may be pretty tough for them to break the lineup this season, Mt. Vernon has a strong group of first-year high schoolers that have been part of those successful groups, including Ivy Zhu, Avery Koon, Avery Spalding and Lilly Hua.

Muterspaugh added among the goals this season is to win the Hoosier Heritage Conference. The Marauders have been very successful in the sectional and Hancock County tournaments, but have not won a conference title since 2009.

Delta has dominated league play. The Marauders have finished second 13 times.

The first conference match is a home contest Thursday against Pendleton Heights.

2024 Mt. Vernon Girls Tennis Schedule


April 3;vs. Cathedral;4:30 p.m.

April 4;vs. Pendleton Heights;4:30 p.m.

April 5;at Whiteland;5:30 p.m.

April 6;at Center Grove Trojan Classic;9 a.m.

April 11;at Shelbyville;5 p.m.

April 13;Mt. Vernon Invitational;9 a.m.

April 17;at Delta;5 p.m.

April 18;at Greenfield-Central;5:30 p.m.

April 19;Hancock County Tournament (at Mt. Vernon);5 p.m.

April 25;at Yorktown;5 p.m.

April 26;vs. Centerville;5 p.m.

April 30;vs. Noblesville;5 p.m.

May 6;at New Palestine;4:30 p.m.

May 8;at New Castle;4:30 p.m.

May 9;vs. Hamilton Southeastern;5 p.m.

May 11;at Franklin Invitational;10 a.m.