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By Mark Jurgena
T-T Sports Contributor
Fifth-year Collinsville girls tennis coach Jessica Thiel welcomed 19 players to this season’s squad last Monday for the first practice before the fall season.
The numbers represent a significant increase in interest since she took over the Kahoks.
“It’s gone really great!” she said. “All of the players are a level above where it was when I started the program. We are actually able to work on positioning on the court and gameplay instead of from the very beginning which I am excited about.”
She has three returners from last season’s lineup.
Sophomore Toby Hawkes played number three last year but looks to contend for the number one position this season.
Last season’s number six, senior Arely Onate, appears to be in line to play number three singles while Meonshae Boyd, another senior, may end up in the number two slot after spending last season as an alternate.
Onate won the most matches for the Kahoks last season.
“I have some returners that were on varsity last year,” Thiel began. “I have some girls that are getting their first chance this year but I think they are where they need to be.”
Thiel is looking forward to a more competitive season as the program continues to progress.
“I think overall we have a stronger team than in the past,” said Thiel. “I think we are pretty consistent throughout our whole lineup on the varsity in comparison to the past. We usually have a strong number one but this year we’re all pretty solid.
“Each girl could have a day and beat another girl on the team that is higher than them. That’s always a good thing.”
CHS will open its season on Saturday at the Andy Simpson Invite hosted by Alton High School.