MP girls’ tennis aims for conference title
With eight letterwinners returning and no graduation losses, the Mt. Pleasant girls’ tennis team is aiming for the Southeast Conference crown this season.
The Panthers went 2-8 overall last year, and finished the season with a 1-5 record in the conference. They placed third in the SEC.
However, they return all of their letterwinners from last season.
Junior Taylor Beatty, their No. 1 singles player, is back. Beatty advanced to the second round of the IGHSAU district singles tournament last season.
“Beatty should have a strong year at No. 1 coming off an 8-6 season last year as a sophomore,” Coach Steve Scott said.
Also returning is senior Shelby Barton, Beatty’s doubles partner and also the No. 2 singles player on the team.
Beatty and Barton are joined by fellow returning letterwinners junior Becca Lehman, junior Tasha Glover, sophomore Elizabeth Shaw, junior Emily Hatfield and junior Abby Skubal.
Hatfield and Skubal split time as the No. 6 singles player last season, and each played quite a few doubles matches as well.
The Panthers are also expecting help at the varsity level from junior Raeanna Crile, who lettered as a freshman.
The Panthers could also see good things from sophomore Jessica Holtkamp, who kept getting better in her freshman season, eventually winning the team’s Most Improved JV Player award at the end of the year.
Of all the returning letterwinners, Barton is the only senior, so once again, the Panthers will be putting a young squad on the courts.
But this time, it’s a young squad with some experience, and they’re hoping that helps them on their way to winning the conference.
“With everyone coming back from last year’s squad, if the girls show what would be considered typical improvement, they should be able to challenge for the SEC title,” Scott said.
Standing in the Panthers’ way are Keokuk and Fairfield, who return the majority of their starters from teams that took first and second place, respectively, in the conference tournament last season.
Ft. Madison also returns four starters, but the Bloodhounds finished the conference tournament in fourth place last year, behind Mt. Pleasant.
Washington does not have a tennis team.
“If the rest of our lineup plays with the consistency we have come to expect of the letterwinners, we should have a good year,” said Scott, who has been at the helm of the Mt. Pleasant girls’ tennis team for 17 years. He has a career record of 103-73.
The Panthers are scheduled to start their season at Burlington Notre Dame on Thursday, March 28.
They don’t play their home opener until Monday, April 15, when they host Keokuk at East Lake Park.