(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Led by a group of five seniors, this year's Sikeston Lady Bulldog tennis squad hopes to come out more like the team that finished last season than the one that started it.
"We struggled last year during the regular season," coach Russ Dial said. "However, when the district tournament came along it was like the light finally came on for them and, as a team, their performance was much better than during any point in the regular season.
"We finished sixth out of a 13 team field. That came as a surprise to all of us."
Some of the seniors expected to lead the team include four-year letterman Jacarra Lampkin, three-year letterman Brooke Partridge and Jessica Hutchcraft.
Having started practice the second week of August, Dail said the girls' efforts in these weeks leading up to the season will greatly determine the team's success once it finally begins.
"The key to getting the season off to a good start began on Aug. 9 with our first practice," he said "The ladies will each get out of this season as much work as they desire to put into each pre-season practice.
"It has been excessively hot, and we have had to be aware of that, but they've all had positive attitudes, given good effort, and focus despite the heat. Could be a good sign for the season ahead."
With this being only the second year of organized tennis for many of his girls, Dial is hoping that this past year's worth of work will lead to big improvements on the court.
"In comparison to last season's team we have more experience from top to bottom," he said. "Several of our returning players had no experience playing tennis at all (before last season). They progressed during the season last year and, hopefully, it will pay-off for them this season.
"Those are our expectations at this point in time. That the processes experienced last year will lead to positive outcomes this season."
The Lady Bulldogs will finally get to put their hard work to the test when they host Carbondale, Tuesday at 4 p.m. to start their season.