Manchester girls tennis team full of experience this season
NEW FRANKLIN — Head coach Wayne Sanders II said the Manchester High School girls tennis team is small in size this season, but the upside is the limited number of players will allow for more individual attention.
“It will be unusual to have a small team, because we’ve normally had around 15 players for the last decade,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to the girls and giving them more individualized attention at practice during the season. I really think we will be able to improve during the course of the season. Everyone on the team needs to work on serves. It is one of our weaknesses. We will be working on serves and volleys.”
Sanders said his team graduated two top players from last year, but noted all of this year’s players return with experience on either the varsity team or the junior varsity (JV) team.
The 2012 team features three seniors, including doubles player Emma Bonfiglio.
“Emma played second doubles last year and will more than likely be at first doubles this year. I will definitely be counting on her experience at doubles,” Sanders said. “If she plays first doubles, that’s a difficult spot on the team. There are some tremendous first doubles teams out there, so her experience could help to get her through difficult competition.”
The team’s other two seniors are McKenna Kapper and Taylor Young, each of whom played third singles and first doubles last year.
“McKenna and Taylor joined the team at the same time, both as freshman. They are very close in ability,” the coach said. “This will be Taylor’s fourth year on the team, and she has matured tremendously since she joined the team. I expect Taylor to be one of our three singles players. And McKenna showed me a great dedication to being on the tennis team last year.”
Also returning to play varsity tennis this year is junior Kelly Daniels, who played second doubles last year.
“She’s a very mature player, very coachable. I’m definitely going to need her experience this year with a few first-year varsity kids on the team,” Sanders said. “Kelly has become a leader on our team. I am expecting her leadership to help guide the first-year varsity girls.”
Looking to join Daniels on the varsity team this season are fellow juniors Hannah Davis, Lindsey Chesmar and Madeline VanHorn. All three players were on Manchester’s JV tennis squad last year.
“It will be exciting for several of these girls to play in the varsity after having played JV for two years,” the coach stated. “It’s a very strong junior class. They came up as freshmen. I’m excited all of the juniors will get varsity experience this year.”
Also playing a key role for the team this season will be sophomore Ashley Burris, who played second singles last year.
“Last year, Ashley jumped right from freshman right into second singles, which is unusual for a freshman,” the coach said. “No guarantees, but she will probably be my No. 1 singles player this year. Her technical skills are very good. She will benefit from more playing experience. She’s only a sophomore, and she’s only going to get better when she’s a junior and a senior.”
Sanders is starting his 35th year teaching sixth grade at Manchester Middle School and his 31st year of coaching. During his tenure as coach, he has racked up 459 career wins.
“My girls have a great deal of enthusiasm. Win or lose, they enjoy their tennis, they try hard, they’re all very coachable and they have fun. We always have fun on the tennis courts and at practice,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to work with those girls every year.”
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