For the first time in the history of the program other than the inaugural season of tennis, the Boonville Lady Pirates tennis team will start the season with no returning varsity singles players for the 2017 season.
While the Lady Pirates have plenty of tennis players out for the season, numbering 25, what they don’t have is experience up and down the lineup under head coach Stephanie Green.
“It’s going to be a learning year,” Green said. “We will gain a lot of experience, especially those girls who have not played a lot of singles.”
Of course that could be good and bad. Bad maybe for the season record but good for the future. Nonetheless, the Lady Pirates will open the 2017 season at home on Tuesday looking to improve on last year’s record at 7-5 overall and 2-3 in the NCMC.
Leading the way for the Lady Pirates are five returning letterwinners, which Green said should help offset some of the inexperience against conference opponents. Needless to say, Green said Marshall and Kirksville will be very tough in the conference this season like always while Hannibal will be competitive as well.
“It’s a strong conference all the way around,” Green said. “We should be in the middle of the pack due to our lack of experience but the girls have worked hard in the offseason. I think that’s one of the reason I am optimistic about the season. They are hardworking and they will do everything asked of them and they want to do better. We also have some strong leadership, which is good. We just lack experience, especially in the top six positions so they will need to develop more initiative to better themselves.”
Green also finds it hard predict how the Lady Pirates will do this season just because of the inexperience up and down the lineup. She said the goals for the season are to get the younger players the singles experience so that they will be more prepared for the level of play they will experience next year.”
The youth and inexperience has also put the Lady Pirates behind in evaluations, which are going on this week. Green said right now the players vying for the top six positions are Erin Kearns, Abbie Grizzle, Olivia Browning, Bailey Brimer, Kamryn Rice, Danielle Dillon, Cidney Dorkins and Diana Koa.
Kearns and Rice are both seniors while Grizzle, Browning, Brimer, Dorkins and Koa are juniors and Danielle Dillon a sophomore.
Kearns also returns with the most experience in singles for Boonville while finishing 3-2 at the No. 6 position last year in singles.
Green, however, said all of the girls are going to have to learn fast. “We have four weeks of the regular season before district team and individual tennis,” Green said. “Kearns, Brimer and Rice probably have the highest level of playing experience so they know how to compete in this sport. Grizzle, meanwhile, did a lot of offseason work and plays at a high level while Koa also knows how to compete.”
As for doubles, Green said some of the lineups will be contingent on how they come out in singles. She said right now she is trying some combinations.
“The only thing I really know right now is that Bailey Brimer and Kamryn Rice will probably play together in doubles,” Green said. “They could be in the top three because of their experience playing together. Olivia Browning and Brooke Coleman could also play together. They know each other pretty well because they play together in soccer. Olivia is more aggressive and powerful with her shots while Brooke studies the game and makes smart choices and smart shots.”
Green also mentioned a possible combination of Kearns and Grizzle playing together in doubles. She said right now they will probably play the No. 1 position.
“They have more experience than anybody,” Green said. “They play pretty well together and both compliment each other. Erin is more aggressive while Abbie has good strokes. I’m also looking at Angela Bryant and Aarica Shay playing together. They were both on the cusp of seeing some varsity time last year.”
Filling out the bottom three spots in doubles, according to Green, are Bayli Collins, Danielle Dillon, Cidney Dorkins and Kia Moore.
“I think we will be a little stronger in doubles because the girls are used to playing together,” Green said. “We at least have some experience there.”
Boonville Lady
8-22    MEXICO    4:00
8-23    at Carrollton    4:30
8-24    OSAGE    4:30
8-26    Lady Pirate Open    9:00
8-29    Knob Noster    4:30
8-31    at Marshall    4:30
9-5    HIGGINSVILLE    4:30
9-7    FULTON    4:30
9-9    Osage Tourn.    TBA
9-11    at Warrensburg    4:30
9-12    MOBERLY    4:30
9-13    HANNIBAL    4:00
9-14    at Kirksville    4:00
9-18    FATHER TOLTON 4:30
9-20    NCMC Tourn.    TBA
9-22    Hannibal JV Tourn. TBA
9-25-26 Team Districts    TBA
9-30    Individual Districts TBA
Note: Home games in caps.