(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Gaining experience will be the focus of the Charleston Lady Bluejays tennis team this year. Coach Seth Benton's squad is a young one. Losing five of the top six and seven of the top nine to graduation will mean a new look for the Lady Bluejays this season.
Senior Jordan Duenne is the sole returner from last year's varsity team. "I expect Jordan to really step up and be a help to these younger girls," Benton said.
Also vying for varsity spots this fall are senior Maggie Fox and juniors Morgan Collier and Chelsea Stallings, who all saw the varsity court at some point last season.
Rounding out the squad are four sophmores and two freshmen, which could bode well for the future of the program if the girls gain experience this season.
The Lady Bluejays, who were 9-2 in dual matches last season, suffered the key losses of Jade Schwieger, Allison DeField and Lindsay Burke. All had extensive varsity experience, with Schwieger and Burke being former state doubles qualifiers.
Third-year head coach Benton is at the helm of a historically dominant program. "Mitch Baker (former head tennis coach) built a great program and I was fortunate to take that over, Charleston has always been known to have a strong tennis program," he said.
"It might take a good portion of the season for the team to understand and cope with the pressures of playing varsity," Benton said. "Hopefully we will go into the district tournament playing our best."
Benton feels that attitude will be key, 'I have a good, hardworking group of young ladies," he said.
The Lady Bluejays will kick off the season at home against the Jackson Lady Indians at 4 p.m. on Aug. 25th.
Coach: Seth Benton
2008 roster: Jordan Duenne, Maggie Fox, Morgan Collier, Chelsea Stallings, Madeline Burke, Taylor Duenne, Jasmine Spence, Gabrielle Quinn, Makayla Thompson, Tyshay Williams
Players lost: Jade Schwieger, Allison DeField, Lindsay Burke, Mary Kate Renaud, Kayla McKenzie
Aug. 25 -- vs. Jackson, 4 p.m.
Aug. 26 -- at Kennett, 4 p.m.
Aug. 28 -- vs. Cape Central, 4 p.m.
Sept. 2 -- at Dexter, 4 p.m.
Sept. 4 -- vs. Massac County, 4 p.m.
Sept. 9 -- at Cape Central, 4 p.m.
Sept. 11 -- at Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.
Sept. 13 -- Sikeston Invitational, 10 a.m.
Sept. 15 -- vs. Dexter, 4 p.m.
Sept. 16 -- at Sikeston, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22 -- at Massac County, 4 p.m.
Sept. 23 -- vs. Carbondale, 4 p.m.
Sept. 25 -- vs. Farmington, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29 -- vs. Sikeston, 4 p.m.
Oct. 2 -- vs. Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.
Oct. 4 -- Parkway Tournament, TBA
Oct. 9 -- District Tournament, TBA