After skipping Monday’s season-opening dual against Topeka High, the top returners for the Manhattan High girls’ tennis team finally got to take the tennis court in a meet.
The results were mixed.
While the team returns two state qualifiers and several other contributors from last season, each of them is playing in a new role this season, so there’s still a learning curve.
“We needed to get the jitters out,” head coach Joyce Allen said. “Kristen Fraley was a nervous wreck. Everybody’s playing in positions they’ve never played.”
The team settled for a third place finish behind Lawrence Free State and Salina South in the quadrangular.
“It was good quality competition,” Allen said. “Free State is tough, and Salina South is up in their league - she’s looking for a good year.”
Fraley moves up to No. 1 singles this year after playing No. 2 most of last year. The talented sophomore went 1-2 Thursday, losing to Lawrence Free State’s Alexis Czapinsky 8-0 and Salina South’s Katie Siemsen 6-3 before defeating Junction City’s Kenedy Obrecht 7-5.
Making her varsity debut at No. 2 singles was freshman Catherine Lei. She went 2-1 on the day, losing a close one to Free State’s Megan McReynolds 7-5 before defeating South’s Amber Rayl 6-2 and Junction City’s Alex Moore 6-2.
“They all did a really good job,” Allen said. “There were a couple matches that we should have won, and everybody feels that way. When you lose 6-4, 7-5, that means you’re in the match.”
Both of the Indians’ doubles teams went 1-2 on the day, with the No. 1 pairing of Anne Roberson and Jenna Stigge losing 7-5 to Free State and 6-2 to South before beating Junction City’s Dani Shane and Ally Bogen 6-2.
At No. 2 doubles, the pair of Kaitlin Wichmann and Cat Colburn lost to Free State 6-1 and South 6-4 before defeating Junction City’s Kira Ford and Kristen Hamilton.
“Both doubles and both singles felt like they had matches they should have won,” she said. “So everybody learned a little something, which is huge in a first meet.”
Win or lose, the first meet of the season is a chance for each player to assess what individual skills they need to work on most in practice, which means the outcome is good regardless of how the team finished.
“I am not disheartened in the slightest,” Allen said. “There are lots of things we can improve upon, but I was pretty pleased with this green little bunch.”