The '13 girls tennis season was truly one of peaks and valleys for the Belleville East Lancers.
Under the guidance of youthful coach Ross Peters, East finished 11-8 in dual matches, placed in the upper half of the Southwestern Conference tournament and advanced a double combination -- Savannah Martin and Rebecca McIsaac -- into the state finals where they split four matches.
But the season could have been so much better if Martin, the Lancers No. 1 player, hadn't missed a major portion of the season and No. 4 player Rylan Lopez, hadn't missed the entire season with various ailments.
Lopez missed the entire season with a fracture in her lower back.
"It was unfortunate that Savannah didn't have the senior year she had hoped. But it was great to see her and Rebecca qualify for state and to be able to finish their high school careers by playing very well,'' Peters said. "To be able to finish with an 11-8 record with all the setbacks we had, I was happy with that.
"I also think that because of the setbacks, we had to move some players around. Because I think it's helped prepare them better for this year.''
While Martin and McIsaac have graduated, the Lancers return several top players from a year ago including juniors Sophie Von Hatten and Lopez. Von Hatten, who played at the No. 2 singles position a year ago, is battling Lopez for the top spot in the Lancer singles lineup along with heralded freshman Isabel Burwitz.
"Sophie has really improved from last year and Rylan is right there competing for that No.1 spot,'' Peters said. "Isabel is a player who has played a lot of USTA junior tournaments and I'm really excited to see what she can do.
"To have three players competing for that No. 1 spot is great. They aren't in that Savannah or Rebecca mode quite yet, but they are well on their way.''
Von Hatten may have the inside track to the top spot.
"Knowing that Savannah and Rebecca had graduated, Sophie has really worked hard in the offseason. She's played a lot of tournaments and done everything necessary to play at the No. 1 spot,'' Peters said. "Rylan is just a great athlete who has worked very hard as well. Sitting out last year I think has motivated to show everybody what she can do.''
While the Lancers top three players are set, six player are battling for the 4-6 positions. Among those players are juniors Kaycie Dresch, Mary Zimmer and Morgan Smith and seniors Hannah Bastar, Katie Parsons and Grace Pavek.
Pavek played at Mascoutah High School her first two years, sat out last season at East, but is returning to play as a senior.
"Depth wise this is the best we've been. I actually lie awake at night thinking about who I want to put in the lineup at the 4-6 spots. There really isn't a wrong choice there because they can all play and do the job,'' Peters said. "We'll have challenge matches and hopefully it will all work itself out."