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The Lancaster High School Lady Bruins’ tennis team, with the loss of some key veteran performers with graduation, is looking to its newcomers this season to help fill the void.
The LHS girls, who went 12-4 and tied for second in Region III-AAAA play with Nation Ford High of Fort Mill last fall, have back only three returnees to the 2013 squad.
The veterans include seniors Erica Moses at No. 1 singles, Kadedra Brown at No. 3 singles and junior Ivy Plaza, who will be at the No. 2 singles.
Plaza earned the team’s Most Improved Player Award last fall.
Veteran LHS tennis coach Phil Dewalt said the team will feel the impact of the loss of its veterans players, including three who reaped all-region honors last season.
“This season will be tough after losing our top three players and five out of eight players overall,” he said. “We have had the same core talent for the past six seasons so 2013 will be a different type of challenge for the Lady Bruins.”
Dewalt is working with a host of newcomers, including LeLe Blackmon, AJ Middle School seventh grader; Lyric Drakeford, Lancaster High School senior; Abbi Plyler, Lancaster High School sophomore; Avery Faile, Lancaster High School junior; Kathryn Wooldridge, Lancaster High junior; Taynesia Brace, Lancaster High senior, Caroline Gilreath, Lancaster High junior; and Kate Muse, Buford High School sophomore.
“The key to the season is getting better each week and staying positive,” Dewalt said. “With a lot of players new to tennis, we need to really learn on the fly in order to be competitive in a region with a lot of historically strong tennis programs.
“It is important that we play sound matches and not beat ourselves as there will be little margin for error,” he said. “Our region is generally led by Clover and Nation Ford, and this year should be no different. We’re hoping to make a run at the final playoff spot in the region which should be a toss-up between Rock Hill, Northwestern and Lancaster. Our goal is certainly earning a playoff spot, and finishing with a winning record.
Lancaster, which hosted Northwestern on Thursday, is off to a 2-1 start, including a 1-1 mark in region play. Lancaster blanked region foe South Pointe for its first league win and then downed Indian Land, 4-2 on Monday.