Manchester girls tennis program looking to add depth
NEW FRANKLIN — Joe Pukansky’s first season as head coach of the Manchester High School girls tennis team is in the books, and he described it as “a good experience overall.”
“We finished 6-11, but we were competitive. I think we were only swept in two of our matches all year,” he said. “We lacked depth, but we were competitive with our schedule. The vast majority of our girls improved. We just don’t have a plethora of players with experience — or a plethora of players overall in the program. We were in a ton of matches, but I think our record would have been better if we had a little more depth or a little more experience at the back end. But the players were reliable and very coachable. They battled, which is all I can ask for.”
The coach said half of the players on this year’s team were seniors (Kelly Daniels, Hannah Davis, Lindsey Chesmar and Madeline VanHorn).
“Our seniors stayed pretty steady and gave us good depth,” he said. “As much as we’ll miss them on the court, we’ll miss them even more as role models. It is a group of high character young ladies for sure.”
Daniels will graduate as a three-year letter-winner for the team.
“She played a ton of No. 1 and No. 2 doubles for us,” Pukansky said. “She reached over 20 wins in her career.”
The other three seniors will finish as two-year letter-winners for the Manchester girls tennis team.
“Hannah Davis and Lindsey Chesmar played No. 2 and No. 3 singles for us, respectively, and added good depth. They both had over 15 career victories for us,” the coach stated. “Madeline VanHorn played mostly doubles for us — first and second doubles.”
The team’s No. 1 player this season was junior Ashley Burris.
“She was our workhorse. She has a big first serve and a lot of potential to improve even more. She has an outstanding work ethic,” Pukansky said. “She is our one full-time player who plays year-round and takes lessons. She was 12-6 overall. She is a three-year letter-winner who has improved her win total each and every year, and I would expect her to continue to improve next season.”
Junior Mercedes Hill finished second on the team in wins with a 10-7 record.
“She was a first-year player that continually got better each week. She’s a great competitor who has an opportunity to win a lot of matches with her athleticism,” the coach said. “She showed tremendous improvement being a new player. She had wins anywhere from second singles to second doubles, so she’ll be our strong No. 2 coming into next year.”
Rounding out the team were a pair of underclassmen: sophomore Emilie Boggs and freshman Maci Nestlerode.
“Both of them were brand new to the sport and both lettered for us. Both gained varsity experience when both would ideally have been playing less experienced junior varsity players,” Pukansky said. “But they showed a lot of improvement throughout the year. We’re looking for them to build some depth into our program, especially since we are losing four seniors.”
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