by Mark Cheffey
The PHS girls tennis team is long on numbers and a little short on varsity experience as it enters the 2020 season.
Coach Jessica Gottman has 25 athletes, possibly a record, out this season but only one returning varsity player in junior Katy Rindom.
“We are still completing challenge matches, so we do not have the rank order set yet, but I have seen improvement in a large number of girls from last year.”
In addition to Rindom are seniors, Hailee Bergheger, Blaize Bross, Reese Gottman, Bianca Perkins and Tessa Richmond; juniors, Jaynee Durst, Taylor Stratton and Brooke Sullivan; sophomores, Ava Browning, Emmalee Drebes, Maura Gottman, Abbey Mann and Jeorgia O’Brien; and freshmen, Natalie Bartz, Ashley Bode, Kenzie Bollin, Maggie Keim, Hadlie Kroeger, Jaymee Price-Brocksmith, Elizabeth Salo, Dorian Sheputis, Rilee Shrum and Taytum White.
The COVID-19 pandemic complicated the offseason some but not to a large degree.
“Some girls spent time over the summer taking lessons at the Racquet Club, while others simply were out playing a lot,” Gottman said. “Both of these things are going to help tremendously when it comes to tennis season.
“COVID stopped us from having tennis camp and activities at the very beginning of the summer. I think this has affected the season because those athletes who were brand new didn’t start playing until summer tennis activities were offered.
“If those activities were offered in June, that would’ve given them an additional month to play and practice on their own.
“With no limitations on contact days, I feel like I still saw my athletes the same amount over the summer as normal. It was just delayed.”
Helping Gottman again this year is Tracy Fountain, assistant coach.
The Lady Panthers open the season on the road Sept. 1 at Moberly and then host Hannibal Sept. 3.