Lehmkuhler signs with DePauw to continue tennis career

Apr. 19—It's been quite the week for Lebanon senior Ava Lehmkuhler.

Earlier this week, Lehmkuhler was named one of the 13 seniors across the state to be awarded the C. Eugene Cato Scholarship given out by the IHSAA.

Then on Friday, Lehmkuhler made her college decision official, signing with DePauw University to continue her academic and tennis careers.

"I am super excited and this year was definitely a process of finding where I belong and what I want to do in life," she said Friday. "But finding a place where I feel that I'm really going to be accepted, where I am going to be able to thrive with a community that will help me thrive, it's going to be amazing."

Lehmkuhler also received the prestigious Copeland Scholarship, helping to show how well rounded she is at Lebanon.

She said that it's been nice to be acknowledged for a lot of the work she has done in the classroom, playing field and community.

"I really couldn't have asked for a better week," Lehmkuhler said. "Sometimes, especially in the heat of getting ready to graduate, you can forget the accomplishments or things that you have done. So it is really nice to be recognized for that."

DePauw is an NCAA Division III school that plays in the North Coast Athletic Conference.

The Tigers are coached by Andrew Gregory.

"DePauw is a great school," Lehmkuhler said. "It's smaller, so I feel like I can interact with teachers and students really well, but it gives a big campus vibe. Even compared to some of the bigger schools I was looking at, I felt like I was getting the same thing at DePauw with more focused academics."

Lehmkuhler has been a multi-sport athlete at Lebanon, playing soccer, basketball and track.

She admitted it will be a little different next year only focusing on tennis, but is excited to see what she can do.

"It's a little scary," Lehmkuhler said. "I have always been a three-sport athlete and soccer has always been one of my loves along with tennis. Basketball was something that I knew I wouldn't play in college, but was a lot of fun. I think focusing on just tennis will be a new adventure, but hopefully a new step in increasing my talent."

She said in her talks with the coaches at DePauw and some of the girls on the team, it made her even more excited to get down to the Greencastle campus.

"I talked a lot with the assistant coach and sent them a lot of videos," Lehmkuhler said. "I loved meeting the team and got to meet some of the other incoming freshmen. I feel like it's going to be a really great group of girls to be a part of."

Lehmkuhler and the Tigers are a little bit of the way through the season and have big goals for the rest of the year.

With the new sectional alignment, she wants to win a sectional title and make a deep post-season run.

And as the final weeks of her high school career get underway, she said she will have a lot of good memories of being a Tiger.

"They say 'once a tiger, always a tiger,' and that is really going to stand true in my sense," Lehmkuhler said. "I am going to remember when I first started playing tennis with the high school team and how much I looked up to (then senior) Kate Stanley and the boys team. I will remember those summers, because that's when I knew I loved tennis and was something I wanted to take seriously."

Lehmkuhler plans on studying kinesiology and microbiology on the pre-PA pathway."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.