With just six varsity spots, tennis is often more about quality than quantity when it comes to players.
The Manhattan High girls’ tennis team returns just three varsity players from a year ago, but two of those players made it to the state tennis tournament, helping bolster a young team in Joyce Allen’s 25th season as head coach, which begins today in Junction City.
The team returns its top two players from a year ago, Kristen Fraley and Cathy Lei. The two took eighth place at the Class 6A state tennis tournament last year as a doubles pair, but will go back to playing singles in 2014.
Both Fraley and Lei also advanced to the state tournament in 2012 as singles players.
“They liked doubles, but it was a lot of pressure on the two of them for each other,” Allen said. “And that’s the way these girls are. They’re so empathetic — they don’t want to let anyone down. It’s easier to let yourself down then somebody else.”
Allen said Lei and Fraley will likely bounce back and forth as the top singles players. Lei will begin the year today playing at No. 1.
“They’re going to go back and forth all season, because Kristen’s going to need some ones, and Cathy will, too.”
The only other returning lettermen for Manhattan is sophomore Tracy Le, who played No. 2 doubles a season ago with Pajsoua Lo, who moved out of the district last winter.
That leaves three open spots on varsity for Allen to fill, with likely candidates including seniors Ale’ Andrade and Danielle Miller, sophomore Lauren Robben and freshman Neely Joyce.
Allen said she has 14 girls out for tennis, but she’s pleased with the number of freshmen participating.
“We have 14 girls out this year, and that’s two more than last year,” Allen said. “We’re just on a downswing. We’re on an upswing with boys, and a downswing with girls. The good news is we have a bunch of ninth graders.”
Allen said she’s been pleased with the leadership of her seniors thus far.
“I have three seniors, Ale’ Andrade, Kristen Fraley and Danielle Miller,” she said. “They are three really wonderful leaders on the team - they’re really great at taking charge, they’re amazing.”