Independent coach Simon Norman was a little surprised at the Panthers’ No. 3 girls tennis ranking in 3-2-1A, in spite of their third-place finish at state a year ago.
“It’s probably a little high,” he said. “But we’re working hard, we’ve got a great bunch of girls, and we’re having a good time.”
The core of the Panthers’ team revolves around juniors Cara Anderson and Codey Davis, and senior Lahkshmi Nagireddy, Norman said.
He chalked up the ranking to reputation. Independent’s boys – also coached by Norman – finished third at state as well.
“They’re worried about us being a sleeper,” he said.
“We’ve been knocking on the door,” coach Chris Bellar said.
The Cardinals find themselves ranked No. 1 by the coaches association in 3-2-1A, with Central Plains League-rival Independent at No. 3.
A year ago, the Cardinals rode the strong doubles play of Abby Koester and Chelsea Ebenkamp to the state doubles title, but fell just short of the team title by 1 1/2 points to Ellinwood.
Koester has graduated, but Ebenkamp returns as does another Koester – Abby’s sister Heather, a junior. Heather went 3-0 at No. 1 singles on Sept. 11 in a tournament at Conway Springs, then finished third Tuesday in the Hesston Invitational.
“She’s starting to play good tennis,” Bellar said.
Stacy Sones, a senior, has taken over alongside Ebenkamp in doubles. They captured No. 1 doubles at the home tournament as well as at Hesston.
“They’re stepping right in and playing well,” Bellar said.
With the girls tennis season already winding down, Bellar and the Cardinals have to first look toward the league meet, scheduled for Oct. 1 at Wichita State’s Coleman Tennis Complex.
Carroll’s girls are thinking this might be the year they break Kapaun’s string of seven straight City League titles, coach Monica Peter said.
“To be honest, we’re tired of finishing second,” she said. “We respect Kapaun’s talent, but we want to beat them.”
Kapaun coach Kathy Schulte realizes Carroll is also talented, but her girls are just as determined.
“I think (the streak is) motivating,” Schulte said. “They want to continue it.”