By HANNAH STEELE- After the entire varsity lineup from last year graduated, the IHS Girls Tennis Team had to construct a new starting roster of girls with a wide range of experience levels. Beginning with a 2-3 record, the players are off to an ambitious and enthusiastic start.
Half of the team, which consists of 30 students, has had a chance to play in the rotating second doubles varsity spot. There is no denying that this season has sparked a lot of opportunity for beginning players.
“Having an entirely new lineup is challenging because of the lack of experience, but fun because new players have a lot of opportunities to get better together. This is a building year where everyone is trying to get better for the future,” stated Head Coach Palko, who has been involved with tennis at IHS for 32 years. “I’m looking for players to improve, and I hope that everyone can look back at the end of the season and be proud of their achievements.”
Playing first singles, Junior Erin Okey has worked hard to improve over the three years that she has been on the team. “I used to play a little bit of Varsity doubles last year, but singles is an entirely different game. My spot is secure this year, which means that the expectations are higher and the competition is a lot tougher, but I really enjoy it. I’m expecting more personal losses than last year because of the tougher competition, but as a team I hope to win a lot of matches with the new lineup because everyone worked hard over the summer to prepare for the season.”
Okey plays first singles, while freshman Kennedi Kunkle participates in the second spot. Junior Lily Carone, who is a third year veteran of the team, competes in third singles. Grace McGee and Hannah Steele, who are juniors and also third year members of the team, fulfill the first doubles position. The second doubles slot rotates between members of the team and differs at each match.
Freshman Kennedi Kunkle made an impressive transition from a beginning player to starting as second singles. “I was excited coming into this year to meet more people before school started,” expressed Kunkle. “Now I get to spend time with a great group of supportive friends and teammates that are always willing to help with anything inside and out of tennis.”
Junior and first doubles player Grace McGee enjoys forming friendships on the team while also being competitive. “I think we have a good chance of making playoffs this year. Our team bond is so strong, everyone is so nice and supportive to each other and we always have fun. Not many teams have a chemistry like ours does.”
The Junior Varsity team, coached by husband-and-wife duo Mark and Katie Bungo, has a beginning record of 0-1.
[Photo by Hannah Steele]
Photo Caption: Playing second singles, Freshman Kennedi Kunkle hits a tough serve to her opponent at Springdale High School.
Hannah is a junior co-editor and has been on the High Arrow staff for three years. In regard to journalism, she enjoys writing the truth and delivering credible news.