FORT SCOTT - Fort Scott High School's girls' tennis team has two returning seniors this season. But younger players have the most varsity experience as the 2011 season gets underway with a home junior varsity tournament Monday and a varsity outing Thursday.
Although the team's only practiced six times going into today, Head Coach Lynn Barr says that though playoff matches in practice, the varsity top six has already been determined. What positions they will be playing have yet to be sorted out.
"We started our position playoffs on Tuesday," Barr said. "The last three days, we've been doing that. We finished the playoff matches Wednesday and then Thursday we played some challenge matches. We'll probably do some more (Friday and Saturday) just to get an idea of where everybody is, who's going to move up, who's going to move down.
"I told them last night that even though it's been just a few days, I've seen a big improvement."
Barr, entering his 33rd season at FSHS, has a pair of juniors who posted a winning record as a doubles team last year and a sophomore who was part of a State Tournament-qualifying doubles team returning.
The seniors are Ashlyn Baugher and Sammi Carr, both of whom have been in the program all four years of high school. Baugher posted a 3-5 record in limited varsity singles play. Carr did not get into any varsity matches last season.
Michelle Buntain and Corina Harrison, both third-year juniors, posted an 18-13 record last season as the No. 1 doubles team. Sophomore Courtney Crain qualified for the Class 4A State Tournament in doubles with partner Kalia Dancy, who has graduated. The pair had an 8-11 record together, mostly at the end of the season. Crain had a 4-4 record with two other partners and was 3-8 early in the season in singles.
"That's three solid varsity players coming back from last year's team," Barr noted.
Other juniors are Aubin Duff, who has been out the previous two seasons, and Krista Hightower, who was a first-year player last season. Brittany Burns, Kandice Rost and Jasmine Davis are second-year sophomores while Kenna Savage, Haleigh Whitten, Danielle McDowell and Sky Tucker are first-year players. The three freshmen are Natalie Carr, Erin Thurston and Holly Duff.
Barr expects Buntain, Harrison, Baugher, Crain, Savage and Whitten to be his top six players when the varsity schedule begins Thursday at Parsons.
"We knew we had good players coming back," Barr said. "Then Kenna and Haleigh are both pretty solid. And Ashlyn has been hitting the ball really well. She's got some varsity experience and as a senior, she's been coming on and been playing well this week."
With 17 players out, James Fox, who has been assisting the boys' team when there are large numbers in the spring, has been added to the girls' staff this season.
Barr expects seven-time defending champion Independence to be the top team in the league yet again followed by Parsons. He feels Pittsburg could also be a contender even after losing a couple of top players to graduation.
Monday's JV tournament is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Independence, Iola and Pittsburg will also be in attendance.