Sep. 2—Manhattan High's girls' tennis came close to reaching gold, both individually and as a team, at the end of last season but fell just short. Dominant junior Jillian Harkin finished second in Class 6A after falling in the championship match, while the team walked away with its second consecutive third-place finish. Harkin rolled through last season, heading into the state tournament with a sterling 28-0 record before finishing 31-1 overall. Now, the junior is poised to continue that dominance with an eye on the state championship that she barely missed last season.
"I worked really hard this summer," Harkin said.
"I've tried to take what failed me at the state tournament last year and improve. Every time I practice, that's what I think about. I've put in long days and long hours, but (winning state) is what motivates me."
As a team, Manhattan is set up to have a similarly successful run.
The Indians return all but two seniors from last year, including three girls who competed at state alongside Harkin.
"Our top 12 or 13 players are all juniors and seniors," head coach Tony Ingram said. "Out of my eight years here, this is either the top one or two team I've had to rely on our challenge matches to figure out where everyone ranks."
Maura Wiens is in line to take over the No. 2 singles spot after the graduation of senior Kayla Lei. Hannah Loub and Ava Bahr now occupy the No. 1 doubles spot, with Jessica Zang and Sophia Evangelidis pairing up e for No. 2 doubles.
But there are three or four others competing for the team's sixth and final spot.
The Indians opened their season Thursday at a quad in Junction City, which started after the paper went to press.