Small tennis squad starts season with strong singles performance

Lauren Schutter | sports editor

The tennis team opened its season Thursday at Wamego, with both singles players bringing home medals.

Senior Mayah Mumpower went 4-0 to place first in #1 singles and sophomore Baylie Tharman went 2-2 to finish second in #2 singles.

Though the team numbers are a little lower than usual, coach Brendan Praeger sees this as an opportunity to improve. “We graduated 7 people, so initially we dealt with small team issues. As we continued, this pushed players to work harder. These players can just get in more reps, and I’ve seen the younger players improve a lot more quickly than in previous seasons.” 

The tennis team returns seniors Mayah Mumpower and Sarah Vanstory. This experience definitely paid off, as Mayah came away from their opening competition at the Wamego Invitational with a gold medal. Praeger had a lot of confidence in Mayah’s return, saying, “She should hit the ground running. She’ll play singles when she’d been playing doubles last year.”

Other returning players include Danielle Murphy and Baylie Tharman. 

“Bailey is basically a freshman in experience,” Praeger said. “She is a dual-sport athlete and only got to go to two meets last season because of Covid cancellations. I think she’ll improve a lot this year.” Murphy enters her third year and had some varsity experience last season. “She can hit the ball really well,” Praeger said. “We just need her to be more consistent and she’ll be pretty competitive.”

As for new players to the program, freshmen Meredith Denton and Ava Huske earned their first variety victory last week against Atchison. “You’d usually prefer to bring more experienced players to varsity events this early in the season, but that experience will definitely pay off,” Praeger said.

The team competes again Thursday at Clay Center and Saturday at Seaman, which will be played at Kossover in Topeka.

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