(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- After capturing their first-ever district championship in 2007, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs tennis team has returned to the courts with hopes of defending their title.
However, in order to repeat as champions in 2008, Sikeston will have lean on the shoulders of some unfamiliar faces as the Lady Bulldogs find themselves in on the verge of rebuilding.
"Many schools from around the area lost a lot of girls to graduation last year, us included," said Sikeston head coach Lynne DeWitt. "It's really a rebuilding year for everybody."
The toughest spot that the Lady Bulldogs will have to replace this season is former number one player and three-time Class 1, District 2 singles champion Jenni Dewitt. But despite a roster of mostly underclassmen, Sikeston will be returning two competitors with varsity experience.
Caroline Murray and Jacarra Lampkin, who both occupied the fifth and sixth spot for the Lady Bulldogs last year, will be back in action and look to hold the top spots for the Sikeston this season.
"I'm really impressed with the improvements that both Caroline and Jacarra have made during the off season," said DeWitt. "They swapped back and forth in the fifth and sixth spots all year last year and did pretty well. So, I'm pretty much expecting them to step up and become the leaders for our team this year."
Rounding out the rest of the roster for Sikeston will be Jessica Hutchcraft, Brook Partridge, Erica Garrett, Rachel Murphy and Sarah Ruessler.
DeWitt said the biggest thing for the younger ladies on the team will be ultimately just gaining experience.
"The biggest thing is to gain experience and improve each every week," said DeWitt. "And sometimes the easiest way to do that is to just get out there and play matches. Overall, we're just looking forward to the start of the season."
The Lady Bulldogs season opener will be Tuesday when they host Carbondale at 4 p.m.
Coach: Lynne DeWitt
2008 Roster: Caroline Murray, Jacarra Lampkin, Jessica Hutchcraft, Brook Partridge, Erica Garrett, Rachel Murphy, Sarah Ruessler
Players lost: Jenni DeWitt, Campbell Moore, Hannah Moore, Megan Underhill
Aug. 26 -- vs. Carbondale, 4 p.m.
Aug. 28 -- at Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.
Sept. 2 -- vs. Jackson, 4 p.m.
Sept. 3 -- vs. Dexter, 4 p.m.
Sept. 4 -- vs. Caruthersville, 4 p.m.
Sept. 11 -- at Jackson, 4 p.m.
Sept. 13 -- Sikeston Invitational, 10 a.m.
Sept. 15 -- vs. Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.
Sept. 16 -- vs. Charleston, 4 p.m.
Sept. 18 -- vs. Caruthersville, 4 p.m.
Sept. 23 -- vs. Cape Central, 4 p.m.
Sept. 25 -- at Kennett, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29 -- at Charleston, 4 p.m.
Sept. 30 -- at Fredericktown, 4 p.m.
Oct. 1 -- at Dexter, 4 p.m.
Oct. 2 -- vs. Kennett, 4 p.m.
Oct. 6 -- at Cape Central, 4 p.m.
Oct. 9 -- District Tournament, TBA