ST. GEORGE – The Pine View girls tennis team returns five players from last year’s team that narrowly missed winning a state championship.
The centerpiece in that group is three-time first singles state champion Lacey Hancock.
Hancock will likely play tennis in college, but she has not yet decided where. She still has a senior season and a goal to achieve — leading her team to a state title.
Hancock said that the Panthers finished third in state when she was a sophomore and second last year.
“We’ve gotten better every year,” Hancock said.
The only way the Panthers can improve on last year’s team that went undefeated in region and finished second in state, would be to win the title.
“I think this is the best team we’ve had,” Hancock said. “All the players are really good. This is the strongest we’ve ever been.”
Hancock will once again be the favorite in the state at first singles.
“I’ve had a lot of experience,” she said. “I know how hard to play and when, and I know which shots to hit and when. I’ve been working out this summer, and I’ve gotten a lot stronger, so I’ve been hitting harder.”
The other four returnees are Hannah Erekson, Hattie Erekson, Shaylynn Riddle and Keri Jeppson.
The Ereksons will join Hancock in the singles competition, forming one of the state’s best set of singles players. Like Hancock, the Ereksons have proven track records at state.
Hattie finished second in third singles last season, and Hannah made the semifinals in second singles.
They will be joined, at least initially, by Julia Hayes and Kiralyn Mulloy, a transfer from Spokane.
“They have been great to coach so far because they are eager to learn and very responsive to coaching,” PV head coach Jessica Stout said.
Hayes and Mulloy will be pushed by a talented junior varsity group that includes Kyleigh Brimhall, along with Paige and Ryann Blaser — all working to get a shot at varsity.
“We have a stronger JV that will be challenging varsity players for varsity spots this year,” Stout said. “That is really exciting because by challenging each other we make each other stronger and better.”