Three years after Lisa Kromholtz graduated from Peninsula High School, the Seahawks girls tennis program may again have someone capable of reaching the Class 3A state tournament.
That would be freshman Allie Barry, who has been playing the sport for five years and has gained high-quality experience through U.S. Tennis Association tournaments.
It might be too early to expect Barry to match the accomplishments of Kromholtz, a four-time state qualifier, but Seahawks coach Linda Lightfeldt didn’t shy away from comparing the two players last week.
In fact, Barry may have an advantage because she has received instruction from professional coaches, whereas Kromholtz came to Peninsula as a raw talent.
“She has a lot of power, she has a lot of placement, and she’s very fast,” Lightfeldt said of Barry. “In those three areas, she’s kind of a step out there ahead of everybody else.”
Barry got involved in tennis through her older brothers and quickly fell in love with it. She feels naturally suited to the No. 1 singles role the Seahawks placed her in during Monday’s season-opener.
“I like singles a lot more than doubles,” Barry said. “I feel like I can run and control the court a lot more.”
There isn’t one part of Barry’s game from which she tries to shy away or overemphasize.
“I like to hit a solid forehand and backhand, and I love to run around the court,” she said. “I just try to work on all my shots all the time to see if they can improve.”
If she reaches her potential, Barry could be the first state qualifier for Peninsula since Kromholtz in 2010. Still, Lightfeldt is tempering expectations.
“She is a freshman, and I don’t want to put too much pressure on her for her first couple of matches,” the coach said. “Even though she’s played tournaments, I know this is different when you have all of your peers watching you. But, I think, unless she gets really nervous or something, she’s just going to be wonderful.”
Samantha Lee, a senior, returns to Peninsula’s lineup after she tore knee ligaments during a skiing accident last winter. Lee will play No. 1 doubles with Marie Dennis, her sophomore-year partner, and that will allow Emily Ausboe to play at No. 2 singles.
Lee and Dennis hope to advance farther in the postseason after they reached the sub-district tournament as sophomores.
“We’ve been playing tennis together since eighth or ninth grade, so we’ve been practicing together, and we know each other pretty well,” Lee said.
The Seahawks have a veteran partnership at No. 2 doubles in senior Erin Horkan and junior Katie Campbell, but the No. 3 team is still “up in the air,” Lightfeldt said. That’s largely due to several players not having the required practice time for competition.
With Barry and Ausboe leading the way, the Seahawks can compete with all of their dual-meet opponents, Lightfeldt said.
“If you get two good, solid singles players, you’ve got those hardest spots to fill done,” Lightfeldt said.