MARION — The Linn-Mar girls’ tennis lineup has been difficult to project.
Graduation losses opened a bevy of spots during the preseason. In-season injuries shuffled the order from one meet to the next.
Through the uncertainty, one constant remains — winning.
“I’d say I was a little uncertain with how this season was going to go because we had a lot of young people coming up,” said senior Megan Burr, who will play No. 2 singles when the Lions (10-5) host Cedar Rapids Jefferson (5-9) in a girls’ team tennis regional opener Saturday at 9 a.m. at Linn-Mar High School. “But they’ve honestly stepped up to the plate and proven a lot to me and our coaches.”
Linn-Mar lost four seniors from a 17-3 team that qualified for the Class 2A team state tournament last season. Senior Ellie Anderson returned for another season atop the lineup, while Burr jumped from fourth to second after diligent offseason work with Tom Galbraith at the Clark Racquet Center. At No. 2 singles, Burr has won nine of 11 matches.
“She’s just become a lot more consistent,” Linn-Mar Coach Stacie Carpenter said. “She’s always had great strokes, but she’s just put the time in through lessons and working in the offseason and I think consistency is the key for her.”
After playing sparingly last year, seniors Lauren Resewehr and Katie Nowak have patrolled the middle of the lineup at three and four. Through successful preseason challenge matches, junior Whitney Guthrie rose from the top of the freshman-sophomore team last season to fifth in the varsity lineup, where she has won five of six matches.
After Resewehr (sprained ankle) and sophomore No. 6 Piper Boysen (back) suffered injuries April 25 against Iowa City West, Guthrie went 5-1 at No. 4, while former junior-varsity standouts Niharika Annira and Zoey McDonald entered the lineup and are a combined 6-1 at Nos. 5 and 6 singles over the last four duals.
All helped Linn-Mar secure a second consecutive 10-win season.
“It gives us a lot of confidence, especially those girls that do step in,” Anderson said. “They’re not used to being on one of the top-six spots. ... They’re winning for us and I think they feel good about that, which gives them even more confidence and then they just keep winning.”
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Resewehr and Boysen (7-2) are expected back in the lineup Saturday against Jefferson. The winner advances to the 2A team regional semifinal May 20 at Waterloo West.
“Well, it’s during prom but we’re still super-excited to go into this with new players and have them be able to experience this for the first time,” Burr said. “And I think they’re ready for it.”
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