”The bad thing with Maria being out is that Jessica and Maria played junior high tennis together, and they played doubles together as freshmen and sophomores,” Wise added. “They would be the two girls hitting together on the first court. The injury took that out of play, but it certainly opened up things for other girls.”
Senior Lauren Shively will step into the No. 2 singles spot after rotating at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles last season.
After that, Wise has seven players competing for the five final varsity spots, including juniors Heather Street, Molly Peterson, Lexis Davis, Aly Davis and Heidi Bonus, along with sophomores Katie Bunce and Mallory Maris.
“With the experience we have, most of them have played … but those girls haven’t had much varsity success,” Wise said. “So, we’re just looking for improvement. We weren’t really competitive and had a lot of 3-2 matches last year. We don’t have that depth this year, so I don’t know where I’m going to get my second and third point. Hopefully, as the season goes on, some other teams have lost seniors and have some younger girls up there, and we’ll be able to match up.”
Taylor visits Peru Thursday to open the season.
Like Rainey, Panthers coach Amy Messer feels better equipped to tackle the challenges as a varsity coach in Year 2 after guiding the squad to a 4-8 mark last season.
“This being my second year, I definitely know what to expect now with working with the girls, and seeing and getting to know most of the teams we’ve played,” Messer said. “I’m seeing those aspects now as a coach instead of as a player, so I’m definitely more comfortable with that now.”
Freshman Brooke Jansen will step into the No. 1 singles position for the Panthers, taking the place of Allison Lindley, who moved on to play golf at the University of Iowa.