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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

SHS tennis faces inexperience

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Sikeston freshman Jenni DeWitt
SIKESTON -- Gone through graduation are five of the top six varsity girls tennis players at Sikeston High School.

Longtime Sikeston coach Lynne DeWitt replaces them with players short on experience at the varsity high school level.

"But even though they're inexperienced," said DeWitt, "they've all been playing the game for quite a while."

A prime example is DeWitt's own daughter Jenni, the No. 1 singles player on this squad as a freshman, who was introduced to tennis at age two.

Senior Chelsea Gilliland is the lone returnee from last year's sectional qualifying team. Sikeston reached the sectional round by virtue of a runner-up finish to Charleston in the Class 1, District 2 tourney.

Gilliland, the No. 5 singles player in 2003, has moved up to the No. 2 spot.

Among the individual losses is Sikeston's No. 1 last season, Elizabeth Killion, who captured the district singles crown. Killion advanced to the consolation quarterfinals at state before elimination.

Behind DeWitt and Gilliland are No. 3, sophomore Tess Marshall; No. 4, junior Brittney Bohannon; No. 5, junior Emily Bowman; and No. 6, senior Jessica Colwick.

Marshall is a newcomer to the tennis program, having participated in softball last fall.

Bohannon has limited varsity experience, but played primarily with the junior varsity, while Bowman saw action in varsity doubles matches and on the junior varsity, as did Colwick.

A large turnout of 14 girls leaves eight for varsity call-ups and junior varsity duty. Team seedings, however, are always up for grabs as players may request challenge matches for the right to move up or into the varsity lineup. Vying for spots are seniors Hallie Lambert and Lamechia Armstrong; juniors Ali Fox, Brittney Bard, Ellie Hensley and Jessica Kruger; sophomore Adrienne Angelos and freshman Danielle Ahlfield.

"We've really been practicing hard," said DeWitt, "and a lot of the girls went to summer camps. We just need matches against opponents to see what needs to be worked on. Outside competition is always different."

A winning record, a district championship and representation at state are team goals, according to DeWitt.

Sikeston will be tested by the usual suspects, district rivals Charleston and Dexter, while the sternest out of district competition usually comes from Cape Girardeau Central, Jackson and Poplar Bluff.

Sikeston opens the season against Chaffee with varsity/junior varsity matches at Sikeston High School on Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m.