Of course, having a three-time state qualifier coming back gives Coach Bob Woelk a solid foundation upon which to build.
Allison Weber returns for her senior season eyeing a fourth state berth. As a freshman, she qualified in doubles with sister Court?ney, placing sixth. Switching to singles, she finished fifth in 2012, then sixth last season with a 25-9 record.
?Her sixth-place finish last year was more significant than her fifth-place finish the year before just because of (perennial power) Wichita Colle?giate coming back down to 3A, and some new players that showed up in our area and our league,? Woelk said.
?It would be disappointing if she didn?t make it to state again this year.?
Weber earned the nickname ?Ener?gizer Bunny? last season for her uncanny ability to maintain long rallies.
?We?re working, as always, on trying to shorten points, trying not to wear herself out,? Woelk said about the emphasis this season. ?She is difficult to get the ball past. That is a very big part of her game.
?We?re working on continuing that mindset of finish a point when you have a chance by hitting a winner.?
Woelk was quick to add, ?At the same time, why mess with success? We?ll keep that (encouragement) in mind, but she will play her game.?
Fellow senior Claire Heyen returns with experience as the Trojans? No. 2 singles player last season. Woelk was impressed with Heyen?s play late in the year, and that upward trend seems to be continuing.
?Claire is looking pretty good,? he said.
Where Heyen will find a spot in the lineup is still to be determined, mostly due to the arrival of a couple of additional classmates.
Madison Klein and Darcy Heinrichs are making their tennis debut as seniors. Klein has been an all-league performer in softball while Heinrichs has played volleyball and basketball.
?Madison took quite a few lessons this summer,? Woelk said. ?I?ve seen big improvements in her game since she came to camp (in mid-July). I would expect her to be a real factor by league time.
?Darcy is a good athlete, too. She is probably the best straight server out of the box that I?ve had,? Woelk said, crediting Heinrichs? volleyball background.
?It?s virtually the same motion as a volleyball spike,? he said of a tennis serve. ?She can go inside-out and has a little power. She has a pretty good pace on her serves.?
Woelk said the challenge facing both newcomers is developing game strategy and proper footwork.
?Obviously, tennis is something you have to learn,? he said. ?But they have the physical tools.?
Also fitting into the category of first-year upperclassman player with potential is junior Mary Leihy.
?She?s a strong girl,? Woelk said. ?She has shown some promise. She?s a girl I wouldn?t be afraid to put out on the court right now.?
Meanwhile, the return of No. 1 doubles players Allison Gray and Hannah Funk, both juniors, and No. 2 doubles player Anna Glanzer, a sophomore, adds to Woelk?s challenge of figuring out a starting varsity lineup that offers only six openings.
Freshmen Dasha Brandt and Sonja Jost round out the 10-player roster.
Woelk said he began intra-squad matches earlier than usual this season to see how his assembly of talent will perform in competition.
?The nice thing about tennis is you have to prove it,? he said of the head-to-head battles. ?It will help me determine who our top six are.?
Last year, the Trojans finished seventh among the 11 schools that competed in the Central Kansas League tournament. Woelk believes the Trojans have the potential to climb a couple of notches this season.
?We will be stronger, up and down,? Woelk said. ?But there are a lot of good tennis players in the area. You just don?t know who is going to show up.?
The Trojans were scheduled to open their season Tuesday, Sept. 2, with the Hillsboro Invitational, which is the first of two home tournaments this season.
The Trojan Invitational is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 25, with matches beginning at 3 p.m.