Alyssa Vaske

Alyssa Vaske is one of three returnees with varsity experience for Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE — The defending SCC champs return to the court after the pandemic knocked out their 2020 season. Now with just three girls with varsity experience and less depth than in previous years, the Panthers will try to grind their way back to the top with the SCC meet coming to Knoxville this year.

Nick DeMoss (54-71 career record) enters his 14th season leading Knoxville and this season he will have 12 girls out for the squad.

Seniors Alyssa Vaske and Josalin McKeever along with junior Olivia Maasdam are the only girls with varsity experience on the team this spring.

Vaske was a mainstay in the middle of the Panther lineup in 2019 with a 6-9 record. McKeever gave Knoxville some depth with a 3-3 record while Maasdam saw some time in doubles.

“We have some great senior leadership,” DeMoss said. “Our girls are committed to getting better every day and their work ethic shows that.”

Juniors Laila Tiller, Jadyn Streigle, Elle Ensor and Riley Daily have JV experience but will be fighting for varsity playing time.

Rounding out the depth is a group of underclassmen that due to the pandemic enter without any varsity or JV matches. Sophomores Kaitlyn Beck, Kai Ethell, Tiarra Michaud and Jorja Culver along with Kate Schneider will try to give Knoxville some depth while gaining experience as the year progresses.

Depth could be a problem for Knoxville with small numbers and little experience. Several other teams could be in the same boat this spring but the goal will always be to be playing their best by the end of the season. A busy and tough schedule should help the Panthers get there.

“It will be hard to compete with the schools that have 40-60 kids on their tennis teams,” DeMoss said. “When you have that much depth, you are able to play girls that have some tennis experience and we are lacking that this year. We are hopeful to be competitive in the SCC and try and repeat as SCC Champions (2019). Davis County will be tough in our conference and our non-conference schedule is one of the hardest non-conference schedules around.”

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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