Tennis team uses season to grow and develop young talent

With only two returning seniors, the Lions used strong underclassmen to fuel their season

By Ryan Hardie, Sports Editor

After the first season of normalcy since COVID-19, the girls tennis team has shown resilience and growth, hosting an incredibly young team. Only two seniors were consistent members of varsity this year, the two co-captains Katie Logan and Audrey Basham, who were anchors for the team as the rest of the roster evolved and developed around them. 

The team sent to regionals consisted of seniors Katie Logan and Abigail Marsh, who represented the one doubles team; freshmen Harper Jay and Alexa Nauholz, who played two doubles; sophomore Emily Brandt playing one singles; and freshman Channing Saint Onge who played the two singles spot.

“We spent a lot of time on serving and basic doubles play with the team. Unfortunately we lost 7 or our top 10 girls from last year. So with the lack of experience and youth we did not win as many matches as we wanted to,” said head coach Chris Marshall.

With a youthful team, heavy emphasis was placed on development and progression, thought not at the expense of winning. While state was unfortunately not in the picture for the girls, they played to the level of their competition at regionals and still had a presence in the early postseason.

“I thought we competed and played well against some good quality opponents,” Marshall said. “We played close to our seeds so I was pleased”

Other obstacles outside of experience presented themselves in the form of poor weather throughout the season, and an injury to one of the captains.

“We had a player [Audrey Basham] get hurt and we had some miss a match due to other obligations or due to weather. So we had to shuffle our line up a few times,” Marshall said.

Weathering the injury to a co-captain is not easy, but leadership and resilience among the team was shown to be strong this year with such depth and talent on the roster. Katie Logan, a longtime member of the varsity team, continued to play well.

“​​As co-captains, Audrey and I worked to figure out what adjustments needed to be made in order for our team to be successful,” Logan said. “Being co-captains requires stepping out of your own shoes to examine how you can make the team better even if it means making personal sacrifices.” 

One such sacrifice was the move to doubles. Logan, typically a singles player, transitioned to doubles in order to maximize the rest of the teams’ abilities and strengths. 

“This season was very challenging for me because I was moved to doubles which I have very little experience in. The move to doubles didn’t really affect my overall view of the season though because I was able to form a lot of great new relationships,” Logan said.

Taking her place was Emily Brandt, a sophomore representing varsity singles. Exemplifying the lack of upperclassmen throughout the team, Brandt was a dependable member of the varsity lineup all season, and she described the pressures of being an underclassman with such an important role.

“There’s pressure just holding up to how good last year’s team was, but it’s a lot of fun and I made a lot of friends,” Brandt said. “Instead of just trying to get the ball back like at the beginning of the season, I’m now hitting the ball harder, playing more aggressively, and just having a better chance of winning against the girls from Shawnee Mission East who will hit the ball extremely hard.”

As new faces rose throughout the season, the girls tennis team was shown to be in good hands. Though the lack of a state presence is something that the team would have enjoyed, the dynamic growth of the team is a major positive outcome.

“It was nice to see underclassmen leading the team in victories,” said Logan, “and it’s incredibly promising for the coming years.”

This story was updated Dec. 3, 2021 to reflect the correct roster for the No. 1 doubles team.