Great Bend’s girls’ high school tennis team opens the 2011 fall campaign earlier than any other sport.
The Panthers travel to Lyons this Thursday to open the season, but it will be their junior varsity competing in a varsity meet.
Let longtime Great Bend head coach Shannon Schartz explain: “The girls are limited to eight varsity meets during the regular season and we have nine varsity meets scheduled.
“We’re going to send our junior varsity to Lyons for the varsity meet and we’re sending our ‘C’ team to the Dodge City JV meet the same day.
“Our top-6 will not be playing, but our next 12 will be out there the very first day.”
The Lady Panthers, who have a sophomore doubles duo with high expectations in Jami McVay and Brianna Schartz, travel to the rugged McPherson Tournament on Tuesday, Aug. 30., and Thursday, Sept. 1. The varsity competition comes on the second day.
“The competition level goes way up in that tournament,” Shannon Schartz said.
McVay and Brianna Schartz posted a 21-11 doubles record last season as freshmen, placing runner-up as All-Western Athletic Conference selections.
Freshman southpaw Morgan Francis and junior Stephanie Langer are the projected varsity singles players.
Shannon Schartz, entering his 34th season at Great Bend, also named junior Kenzie Sinclair and junior Becca Brining as his No. 2 doubles team to open the season.
During preseason practices the players have taken frequent waters breaks in the shade, and Shannon Schartz said he is not concerned about conditioning problems in the sweltering heat.
“A lot of our girls, maybe one-third of them, have worked out in the summer weight program and we’ve had summer tennis all summer, so the heat and conditioning won’t be a problem,” he said.
Last season, Great Bend finished at .500 with a 57-57 record in varsity matches, along with a 65-51 JV mark.
Besides Francis, Schartz lists Paola Ramirez (junior), Estella Schumacher (junior), Liz Wren (junior), Kalee Maneth (soph.), Sinclair and Brining as top prospects in his program.
The lone senior in the program is Michaela Stephenson, a first-year player.