ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Building on a season that produced a 9-7 overall record and a 3-2 conference record with a freshman-laden team, Tabor College tennis coach Lonnie Isaac thinks the foundation has been set for higher perch in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“I feel good about Tabor College tennis,” Isaac said. “We have a very good, young team.”
In his fourth year, Isaac will once rely on youthful exuberance seasoned with a year of collegiate experience.
Leading the way will be unanimous All-KCAC first-team selection Dannie Brucks.
“Dannie got some good experience playing No. 1 singles and doubles last year, so we’ll expect a lot of good leadership from her at the top of our lineup,” Isaac said.
Fellow sophomore and second-team All-KCAC pick Ashley Helmley returns with added knowledge of what it takes to compete at the college level.
“Toward the end of the year last year, Ashley and Dannie were very close to each other in their abilities,” Isaac said. “We expect a lot out of her this year and both of these players will be asked to do a lot at meets and in practice.”
Also returning with All-KCAC accolades on her resumé will be Kim Harden, a second-team selection.
“Kim will be a stabilizing force in the middle of our lineup,” Isaac said. “She has the potential to really help us to be a solid team.”
Also returning to the Bluejay fold will be Jennifer Proffitt, a Hillsboro sophomore.
“Jennifer will be very important to us in the middle to bottom portion of our lineup,” Isaac said. “Toward the end of last year, she was challenging players above her and she has the potential to push those other players and make everyone better.”
Tabor’s other returning player will be junior Lindsay Adrian.
“She played last year at different times at No. 3 doubles and 6 singles,” Isaac said. “This year she’ll be asked to step into those roles and provide some depth.”
Realizing quality is sometimes better than quantity, Isaac welcomes a lone recruit to this year’s squad, but her credentials are impressive.
“We only got one recruit, but she will be a difference maker,” Isaac said. “Laurel Delamater of Bakersfield, Calif., was our top-priority recruit.”
Isaac said Delamater won a state doubles championship as a junior while at Bakersfield and has unlimited potential.
“You never know for sure what a freshman will do, but she has the potential to be a top player not only for us, but in the KCAC,” Isaac said.
“I would expect her to compete for our No. 1 spot immediately even as a freshman and with the talent we have returning.”
Isaac said the door has been opened to many talented players.
“We had by far the largest number of players and the most talented players on campus we’ve ever had,” he said. “But that’s how recruiting goes-some years you get several players and other years you struggle.”
Isaac said the fact he’s in his second year as full time coach has eased the transition into the new season.
“I feel a lot better about this season in the way I was able to prepare for the team and get more organized,” Isaac said. “In turn I think that will allow the players to be more relaxed and be more comfortable about the system and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Bethany and Bethel, the two teams that finished above Tabor last season, will once again battle for the top spot, Isaac said.
“I’m hoping optimistically, if our middle lineup plays like it can, we can have an outside shot at a conference title. Realistically, our team goal is to finish second.
“We finished third last year and we want to continue to take steps forward and keep improving,” he said. “I think even as young as we still are, we can improve.”