Girls tennis team seeking direction, consistency from largest team in years

New and returning faces alike join forces on the packed courts


Eliza Naumann

Serving the ball, Junior Gwen Bannwarth fights for win at Lawrence High’s home varsity quad on August 31.

By Perrin Goulter, Co-Editor in Chief of The Budget

The Lawrence High School girls tennis team has returned, setting new records for participation. For the second year in a row, the Lions have come out in an unforeseen way, resulting in the courts being absolutely packed.

After a year characterized by a record number of girls, in the 2021 season, the girls of Lawrence High School have somehow found a way to exceed even the highest expectations. 52 girls have taken to the courts, up from 48 last year. 

The turnout has been exhilarating for head coach Chris Marshall and assistant coach Brian Hunter, but has also forced them to innovate for the second year in a row.

“It’s exciting that tennis is becoming something that people really want to be a part of,” Hunter said. “The downside of that is that it makes practices really difficult to coordinate. There are definitely more things that can go wrong. But the girls have done great; they’ve done a great job of talking to each other and figuring out where they need to be.”

Despite the challenges, this year’s team shows a lot of potential. The team’s growth is partly caused by new freshmen joining the team. One of these freshmen is varsity doubles player Fiona Bini. Having only been on the squad for one year, Bini is already making waves.

“Right now, she’s playing number one doubles which is exciting for her as a freshman,” Hunter said. “I expect great things from her. Probably one of the best players I will have ever coached.”

After the first meet of the year, Bini and her partner had trouble overcoming some of the obstacles that came their way.

“It was really hard to play in the heat, and we had a lot of sequential matches because we play longer than other teams,” Bini said. “I’m confident that as we play more throughout the season, we can start to endure more and for longer periods of time.”

But the team mentality observed by Bini leads her to believe that things will turn around for her and the team as a whole.

“I love being a part of something like this, and in practice thus far, we’ve really felt like a team,” Bini said. “The varsity group is super awesome and has some really great people on it, which I love.”

Indeed, a team cannot have a growing culture without a backbone of girls who return from year to year.

“Our senior class was pretty small last year, only like 4 or 5 girls,” Hunter said. “This year, we have about 5 or 6 freshmen, and it’s been a lot of recruitment from our players. The retention from last year was really good.”

One of these supportive players is junior Emily Brandt. Her positive outlook on the season uplifts other players.

“After the first meet, I think that staying positive went well. It was hard to play against a team who is as good as they were,” Brandt said. “We just need to work on hitting consistent shots, giving our best at every point and playing more competitively. I think we’ll have a winning streak overall.”

The push for competitive growth for these girls didn’t just begin after the last bell rang on the first day of school. Efforts to improve started back during the end of summer vacation.

“We had some summer practices, which were a lot of fun. They made it so that we already knew each other pretty well going into the season, and now we’re all pretty friendly with each other, even more so than last year.”

Like every year, the goal for the girls and the coaches is making it to state.

“One of my personal goals is to make it to state, and that really just depends on how I feel on the day of regionals,” Brandt said. “I’m confident that at least someone on the team will make it to state, most likely our doubles teams, but I’m really excited.”

“”I really want to make it to state,” Bini said. “That may be a big goal for my first year, but I don’t know. I’m really excited for it.”

With goals in mind, it’s up to the team and the coaches to take their skills all the way. And thus far, things are looking hopeful.

“Every year, it’s about getting to state. Our regional just came out, and it should be good,” Hunter said. “I think we have a pretty good chance to qualify.”