Three seniors at West Bladen and a quartet of them at East Bladen are expected to help lift their respective tennis teams toward the top of the Three Rivers Conference this fall.
The Knights of head coach Billy Bryant will be counting on Savannah Lee most likely in the top spot and two-sport standout Mireya Sandavol further down in the lineup. Eagles’ head coach Megan Kirby is banking on Ting Lynn as its singles leader, with significant contributions from Anna Kate Light, Carleigh DeVane and Olivia Barnes also needed.
Both schools were scheduled to open the season Monday —West Bladen going to St. Pauls and East Bladen hosting East Columbus.
“We pretty much have the same team as last year,” Bryant said, noting a couple of graduations. “We’re still looking to have a good season. I think we’ll be contending for the conference championship again. And I have some new freshmen additions that are looking good in practice.”
Juniors Autumn Brissom and Alyssa Bell will play near the top of the lineup. Junior Alyssa Smith, who like Sandavol is also a soccer player, and senior Haley Dunn are projected into the top six as the season gets underway.
“Most of mine are baseliners,” Bryant said. “I’m working on some net work. Savannah and Autumn are pretty strong from the baselines. Both have some pretty good top spins.”
Brissom adds the left-handed element.
The Knights were second in the Three Rivers a year ago. Bryant expects South Columbus and Whiteville to be in the mix this year, and South Columbus is scheduled to visit Dublin today at 4 p.m.
For Kirby and the Eagles, five of six starters are among seven letterwinners.
”We should be pretty good,” she said. “And I’ve got 12 total; five new girls for the first time.”
As Kirby was deciding her lineup in the final week before Monday’s scheduled opener, she projected Light and sophomore Lilly Lin to follow Lynn in the lineup. Four players were competing for the final spots, including seniors DeVane and Barnes, and sophomores Sammi Jiang and Carlie West.
“South Columbus was the top team last year, and look to be strong this year,” Kirby said. “West Bladen and Whiteville in the 2-As, Fairmont is still pretty good, and then us.”
Whiteville, West Bladen and South Columbus comprise half of the Eagles’ first six playing dates, all of which will be home. Conversely, the trio is set to be played in three consecutive road tests Sept. 13, 18 and 20.
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or email@example.com. Twitter: @alanwooten19.