Alyssa Vaske

Knoxville’s Alyssa Vaske attacks the net.

The Knoxville Panthers were the defending South Central Conference Tennis Champions.

The 2020 season had some hopes for a squad that surprised at the league meet, claiming only Knoxville’s second ever league title for girls’ varsity tennis. Both titles were under the direction of head coach Nick DeMoss.

Knoxville was returning six letter winners from 2019. The list included seniors Madelynn Liston and Anna McDonald along with juniors Josalin McKeever and Alyssa Vaske and sophomore Olivia Maasdam.

Junior Nadia Vinsick also saw considerable time on the court a year ago, giving the team some depth at the top of the lineup.

A total of 18 players were slated to take to the court for the 2020 campaign, which never officially got underway due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our strength this year was the fact that we have a lot of girls who improved a lot last year, and were extremely hard workers always trying to get better every day. I believe a few of them played a lot this off season, so it would have been great to see how they had developed. I also feel like we are pretty deep with seven girls returning that had varsity experience,” DeMoss said.

The Panthers needed to replace Alex Griggs at No. 1 singles from the 2019 squad.

“Griggs was playing in the top 8 at Central as a freshman and was a two time conference singles champion. Because of this, we did not have anyone that had any experience at the number 1 spot,” DeMoss stated.

He added, “Alex was a 3-time All-Conference, 2-time Conference singles Champion, and 2-time State qualifier (singles 2018 and doubles 2019).”

Also missing from the 2019 squad that finished 2-6 in duals were Anna Sanderson at No. 2 singles, Erica Blankenship and Isabella Ippolito.

Griggs and Sanderson qualified for the State Tournament last year in doubles.

DeMoss was pointing toward Bloomfield and the Davis County Mustangs as the team to beat in the SCC.

The coach replied, “I believe we were one of the top three teams in the league due to our depth.”

DeMoss was preparing for his 14th season in charge of the team.

In closing he talked about the COVID-19 virus. “I don’t think anyone saw this coming. I know the State made the correct call to keep our athletes, coaches, and fans safe, however, I feel terrible for all of our players, but especially our seniors. This was the last year for Madalynn Liston, Reagan Little, and Anna McDonald to play tennis as a Panther and they will never get that opportunity.”

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