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MHS tennis returns 6, three from state

By Joel Jellison

With a heavily experienced group returning, Manhattan High girls’ tennis coach Joyce Allen said this year’s squad is a “dream team” of sorts.

The Indians return six with significant varsity experience and three state qualifiers, including one with three state appearances as she enters her fourth year.

Manhattan kicks off the season today with a dual at Topeka High, and Allen said she expects just about everyone to get into the action.

“I’m really hopeful,” Allen said. “I lost only three from last year’s varsity group, and so I have six returning with varsity experience, and that’s pretty incredible.”

The state returners include three-time state qualifier Kayla Fraley, along with Erin Kruse and Maddie Johnson. Annie Hodges, Anne Robinson and Kaitlyn Wichman all bring experience to the roster as well.

Allen said she expects Caroline Sager, Kate Hanson, Colleen Landers and Kristin Fraley to get into the mix varsity-wise as well.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’s kind of a dream team a little bit, and they are all really just excited. We’re just like everybody right now, we’re all ready to play. We are sick of drilling and we are just anxious to get out there and play.”

Drills and practice have actually been a challenge since the girls took to the court as a team two weeks ago. Allen said the hot temperatures and typical humidity of Manhattan have taken its toll on the team.

“Its been really hot, and we’ve played well and practiced well, but it’s just tough to gauge where we are at because we are playing ourselves,” she said. “It has just been grueling in the heat and humidity and we have shortened practices and they are, rightfully so, a little lethargic at times.”

The team will start the year off with a new assistant coach in Chuck Kipp this season, who is also the boys’ head coach.

Kipp is replacing Bob Kelly in both jobs, and Allen said he has already done a good job for her, especially in the organization department. Allen said she is happy to regularly have assistants that help her out so much.

Allen said the schedule this fall is grueling in that it doesn’t give the team an off day. Of course she said anytime a team has to regularly face schools like Washburn Rural and Hayden, among others, it’s tough to ever expect a break.

The team will host four home meets this season and the Centennial League meet is scheduled to be held at Topeka West on Oct. 3.

“We have pretty high hopes,” Allen said. “We just need to see what we are doing and try to see where we fit in.”

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