Girls teams in valley bring experience, positive attitude, expectations to the courts

Central High School senior Mandy Johnson will be playing No. 2 singles for Central’s team.

What words define this year’s three girls tennis teams from the Grand Valley?
Fruita Monument: Experience.

“This group has all been there before,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “They know what to expect and there will be no surprises.”

The Wildcats’ experience begins at the top, with returning No. 1 singles player Lindsey Henke. The senior nearly advanced to the state tournament last year but finished third at the regional tournament.

Henke also plays volleyball but chose to forgo the club volleyball season to focus more on tennis.

“I didn’t play club so I was able to get a couple more (tennis) tournaments in than I had in the past,” Henke said. “I have a lot more experience this year, but so does everyone, and we should be pretty good.”

With the majority of the team back, it’s a matter of finding who fits best into each position.

“The top of our team is all back and we filled in the rest with alternates and freshmen who have been playing a lot,” Davis said. “So if we are ever going to do it, this is the year.”
Central: Positive.

“They do everything I ask them to and they don’t complain,” first-year Central coach Amy Hart said. “They have really pulled together as a team and it is a positive feeling out here.”

Hart took over for Steve Tyler, who left to become the head coach at Central College in Pella, Iowa. Hart said she hasn’t changed much from what Tyler was stressing.

“I have tried to do close to what Steve did, but introducing new drills and adding more condition,” Hart said. “They have responded really well to me as coach.”

The Warriors have stayed the same at the top, with Elise Beckstead entering her fourth year as the No. 1 singles player.

“I am such a different tennis player now than when I was a freshman,” Beckstead said. “We have all worked hard and built up a strong team.”

Grand Junction: Expectations.

“They are very competitive and they have been working their butts off,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “They are going to go out and work hard.”

The Tigers have been the benchmark of tennis in the valley and with an experienced group coming back, Grand Junction looks to keep the tradition going. The Tigers return all three singles players, all of whom went to the state tournament last year, beginning with Charlotte
Mooney at No. 1 singles.

Mooney is entering her second year playing at the top spot and said she plans to bring a more laid-back approach to the court than in years past.

“Every year I have put a lot of pressure on myself,” Mooney said. “This year I am going to still bring those high expectations but I am going to try and relax a little more.”

The Tigers want to stay at the top, but know the other teams in the valley are improving.

“We want to be the best in the valley,” Elliott said. “But Central and Fruita will be strong and that is added pressure for us. We are up there and they will be shooting for us so, we will have to be ready.”


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