CAMANCHE — Even if the season is over for the majority of the Camanche girls tennis team, the future looks bright.
The 18-member team included 10 freshman this year.
"We had two seniors on the team and a lot of girls who had never played before," Camanche coach Emily Turner said. "It was great enthusiasm wise because they were excited to come in and play, but a lot of them had never picked up a racket before."
A lot of people who had never picked up a racket? Makes for a slow start.
"That makes practice kind of hard at the beginning because you have people at one level and people who don't know how to hit a ball year," Turner said. "It was nice to see how well they mesh together and how the more experienced people helped out the others.
"By the end of the season we could all run drills and games together and that was great."
It was a learning season for a lot of the Indians, but the improvement Turner has seen this season can only help them from here.
"We have a really strong upper JV team," Turner said. "We have a lot of girls who have varsity experience now because of illnesses or injuries. Since we're only graduating two off of varsity, it still leaves us with people who have experience at every position."
Plus, the Indians play a notoriously hard schedule. They play schools bigger than them all year, including tournaments with Clinton HIgh School, so that when it comes time to play schools their size they're ready for it.
Turner thinks it helped them at regionals. The team barely fell to Davenport Assumption, losing 5-4. In individual regionals, they saw Marly Bussa and Natalie Goble become champions and qualify, while Lexie Hart finished third.
"They had to gut out some hard matches, and I think they were ready for it because of our hard schedule," Turner said.
Goble, the Indians' No. 1 player this year, had been the upperclassman leader. Turner hopes the younger athletes learn from her example.
"Natalie really picked up her game this season," Turner said. "She qualified in doubles last year and she thought she would go this year in singles because she really picked up her game, but she and Marly just really made a dynamic team together.
"As the No. 1 player she sets the tone for the team and she did that really well."
Turner was also impressed with Hart's performances.
"Lexie Hart took our No. 3 spot and the beginning of the year and finished as No.2," Turner said. "She had a great day at regionals, ending up third. She played some really long points, long games, and really worked hard."
Plus, she really enjoys the character of the team.
"They're goofy. They're great, though," Turner said. "It's fun to come to practice. They can be serious when they need to be but they can also let loose. They're all around nice girls."
Turner said that one of the greatest compliments a tennis coach can hear is that their athletes were kind to their opponent. She heard that twice from coaches on Wednesday.
"That feels good as a coach, that they have the skills and they have the character, too."