Pictured: 2014 Grace women's tennis team
Grace’s women’s tennis has reason to be optimistic in 2014.
Although the Lady Lancers finished 3-8 last fall, Grace returns an experienced roster and added talented newcomers. Second-year head coach Scott Moore is confident the growing pains the team endured in 2013 will make for a stronger, hungrier squad this fall.
“Last year was a learning experience for both me and the girls, and I feel like we are miles ahead this year compared to last,” Moore said. “I have a competitive bunch of girls who are eager to get on the court and compete against other teams. Seeing their passion and excitement fires me up, and we can’t wait to get started.”
Kristin Cassidy returns as the most experienced senior on the court for Grace, boasting 14 wins over her collegiate career. Sarah Hinkel (11 career wins) and Jessica Lokotar join Cassidy as seniors on the squad.
Also returning for Grace is a strong sophomore class of Gabrielle Lawrence, Katie Etter, Mariah Zumbrun, Jayna Huber and Rachel Smith. The class combined to win 22 courts as freshmen, led by a team-high eight wins from Lawrence and six from Etter.
Newcomer Natalia Kurkova (Kyrgyzstan) joins the Lady Lancers as a junior this fall. She has tremendous potential in the Crossroads League and could be the team’s No. 1 singles and doubles player, according to Moore. Returners Julia Marsh and Lydia Marsh round out Grace’s junior class.
Caroline Cassidy, sister of Kristin, will be a freshman for Grace. She was a four-time All-Conference winner at Mississinewa High School and was the No. 1 singles and doubles player on a 19-2 squad in her final season.
“I expect our team to compete every match. We may not win every point, every set or every match, but if we focus on the process instead of the outcome, then we will be there in the end,” Moore said. “I expect the girls to carry themselves professionally and in a way that glorifies Christ.”
The Lady Lancers open the season on Thursday with a home match against Huntington at 4 p.m.