The numbers may be down a tick, but the usual quality persists for McPherson High girls tennis coach Tyler Brown.
The Bullpups have only 12 players on their roster this season, but three of them competed in the state tournament last year.
Brown started practice last Monday without the current Class 4A state doubles champions Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers, as they graduated after illustrious careers.
But Brown says it’s the next players up, with senior Maisie Edmonson leading the way after she was seventh in the state in singles last year.
“Maisie will be this year’s leader not only on the court, but off the court,” said Brown, whose team has been a perennial Top 3 state contender year after year. “She can compete with some of the very best Kansas has to offer and also gives back to the youth program volunteering her time with our summer youth programs in Mac Advantage Tennis Club.”
Other seniors for the Bullpups are Madison Schmidt and Cheyann Williams.
Another player who has captured Brown’s attention is Ashley Achilles.
“Ashley is also looking tough in doubles matches this first week,” Brown said. “Seems like whoever I put her with she has been able to win.”
Brown knows what he’s getting with his two other state returnees, sophomores Taylor Bruce and Rachel Carlson, so it’s filling a couple of spots that will be a priority before the season opener on Thursday at Hesston.
“Taylor and Rachel are not a surprise, but should help make a push in collecting team points at tournaments all year long,” Brown said.
And there’s a chance he could have a freshman among his starting six very soon.
“Freshman CeAnna Allen looks to be making a strong case for making our Top 6 and going to Hesston,” he said.
The Bullpups have a few more days to get ready.
“Everyone seems bought into the program and is working very hard,” Brown said. “We are excited to open up at Hesston. I’m hoping our consistency will continue to improve. If we continue to limit unforced errors we will be a very good team.”
After the Hesston tourney, the Bullpups will be home Aug. 31 for their first of two invitational tournaments.