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After struggling for participation in recent years, CCHS girls tennis finished with more than 30 athletes this year.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Crook County's Malorie Thompson was one of seven seniors on the Cowgirl tennis team this season.

The Crook County High School girls tennis team did not do anything earth-shattering this year.

However, the team took a giant step forward from the recent past.

"It was a great season and I am really encouraged by the numbers that we have," said head coach Aaron Raasch. "I am looking forward to seeing where the team can go from here and to see their improvements in the off season."

Senior Meredith Cooper was the lone Cowgirl to qualify for the state tournament, finishing fourth at the Intermountain Conference Championships and then winning an opening round match at state before being eliminated by the No. 2 seed in the tournament quarterfinals.

Although no other Cowgirls advanced to state, several other Cowgirls did win matches at the IMC district meet. Perhaps even more importantly, the team had a record turnout, with more than 30 athletes finishing the season. That bodes well for the team in future years, as the vast majority of the roster returns.

Raasch added that the key to the teams future success is how much work players are willing to put in during the offseason. The top players in the state play year-round. With no indoor facilities in Crook County, players are already at a disadvantage. Therefore, it is critical that they do what they can in the offseason. That includes playing during the summer months, as well as participating in other sports so that players have a high fitness level heading into next spring's season.

In addition to Cooper, the Cowgirls also lose No. 1 doubles players Emma Bales and Harlee Bothum to graduation, as well as Jayden Bennett, Bailey Everest, Kadyn Madison and Malorie Thompson. However, several players with varsity experience return, including singles players Cecily Cooper, Haven Housley, Sammy Ramos, Ausley McCabe, Kiera Glenn and Yadhira Ceja, as well as doubles players Macy Wiederholt, Perla Gomez, Morgan Kelly, Samantha Dean, Analaura Jacuinte, Callie Winebarger, Kiera Glenn, Delaney Engstrom, Tayah Hagensee, Angie Zarate, Hailey Tanner, Aubrie Olson and Abbi Pack.

Adding to the optimism for next season is that not only do the Cowgirls return a lot of experience, they are also moving down a classification. In some sports that might not be significant; however, the Cowgirls won the White Buffalo Invitational in Madras, an event that included a lot of solid Class 4A tennis squads — including a number of future district counterparts.

Now, it's all about players getting court time.

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