For a large chunk of the Manhattan High tennis team, the experience of playing in competitive varsity matches against another team is totally foreign.
With several newcomers joining the team this fall that had not previously taken the court in an Indians uniform, gaining that experience, win or lose, was the goal.
In that sense, the first dual of the season was a success.
“Some of these girls had never played a tennis match before, and I’m really proud of what these girls did,” MHS coach Joyce Allen said. “Even though we lost, the main thing was to get the water under our feet. We’re now in the pool.”
The team got its season underway Monday, matching up with the Topeka High Trojans in a dual at City Park.
The big winner was senior Jenna Stigge, who was the only Indian to win her singles match — an 8-3 decision over Christina Welch — as well as her doubles match, pairing with fellow senior Cat Coburn to win 8-3 over Topeka High’s Clair Joens and Teghan Beam.
Topeka High swept the other three doubles matches, with Katie Hurocy and Alex Henderson defeating Claire Freeby and Carly Tracz, 8-1; Lauren Doblin and Welch defeating Brittany Jones and Danielle Miller, 8-4; and Jordan Vigola and Reagan Vigola defeating Katarina Zdolsek and Hanna Hayden, 6-2.
In singles, Stigge was the only winner. Hurocy defeated Freeby 8-4, Henderson defeated Tracz 8-3 and Joens defeated Miller 8-3. Beam defeated Hayden 8-2, Doblin defeated Jones 8-5, Jordan Vigola defeated Coburn 8-1 and Hernandez defeated Zdolsek 8-0.
Losing is never the goal in competitive tennis, but getting the chance to play against someone besides a teammate is invaluable as the season gets underway.
“Girls needed to play, needed to see where they were,” Allen said. “Sometimes you get bored at practice and you need to see what the matches are like so you can adjust your game.”
Some notable names did not play Monday, including state qualifiers Anne Roberson and Kristen Fraley. Returning lettermen Kaitlin Wichmann and Caroline Sager also did not play, as Topeka High’s top returning players did not make the trip.
Those girls will get the chance to take the court Thursday in a quad meet in Junction City.
“Thursday we go to Junction City,” Allen said. “I’ll be able to look at some other girls that didn’t play today, and I’ll be able to figure some things out.”