The 2017 season for Laramie High School tennis begins earlier, but also brings high hopes for how both teams will finish.

The Laramie Lady Plainsmen are coming off the program’s first ever state title, but return only three players from last year’s line-up, and they’ll all be in different spots in the line-up. Leading the way will be junior and returning All-State performer Ally Franc.

Meanwhile, the Laramie Plainsmen are the more veteran team with seven of their top eight back from a year ago. Though, they also are likely to have changes in their line-up, outside of number one singles player Kyle Moore.

Third-year head coach Elizabeth Clower said they’ve been playing a lot of challenges matches in practices, but the line-ups won’t be set until after a road trip to Casper.

“This will be the first time I get to see them in true competition. So, how do they handle that pressure? How do they work together if they’re with a partner? Probably going to have a couple of different looks at two singles for the boys; see how that goes; and the girls’ single is starting over.”

Laramie opens their season against Kelly Walsh at 11 a.m. Monday and follows that up with a match versus Natrona at 1 p.m.

Clower feels the Plainsmen will be highly competitive.

“They’ve been coming out since the first of June. They’re practicing very focused with a lot of purpose. They’re pushing each other to be better. They want a state championship.”

Clower’s also been pleased with the Lady Plainsmen.

“We’ve had several new players come out, just like last year, some seniors, but they’re athletic and play other sports, so they understand competition. They’re picking up the game of tennis very quickly.”

Practice began last Monday, Aug. 7, which is a week earlier than normal, while the season is starting about two weeks ahead of time.

Clower admits it’s been both positive and negative.

“The nice thing is we’ll have almost half our matches played before school even starts, so the kids can focus on tennis. They don’t have to worry about homework and all that. It’s been a little tough because we’ve had five days of practice, and you play your first two matches. So, having enough time to get to know the kids, put together combinations has been a little tougher.”

She does like that the season ends a week earlier with state in Gillette Sept. 21-23.

Clower does have high expectations for both squads.

“I feel like we can be competitive. I’m excited… I think I see more passion and more drive this year to reach the goal.”

The goal would be winning state championships with both teams, though Clower knows it won't be easy.

KOWB’s David Settle also had an opportunity to visit with veterans Ally Franc and Ben Graeff about the upcoming season. Here’s what they had to say.

The season gets underway Monday. The first home matches will be Saturday, Aug. 19 versus Green River and Rock Springs. They will also host Cheyenne Central, Campbell County, Thunder Basin and Rawlins during the season.

The South Regional Championships will be in Cheyenne hosted by South Sept. 15 and 16.

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