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East Lansing Girls Tennis Comes Into Season With Big Changes, But Same Winning Expectations

East Lansing High School
Alexis Downie
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The Trojans were led by seven seniors last year, and now, the youth-heavy team only has two seniors. But the ELHS players still see a run at states in their future.

 

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The East Lansing High School varsity girls’ tennis team is embracing new challenges this season. 
 

The team placed 14th at the 2018 MHSAA Division 2 state finals, led by a group of seven seniors. While their leadership played a key role in defining the team, the departure of the class left numerous spots to fill for this year. 

 

Varsity head coach Cosette Buckberry is excited about the addition of new members. 

“I think it’s always fun to get new energy with a new team and see what they can do once they start bonding,” said Buckberry. 

 

The team only has two seniors that are returning players: Felicia French-Croll and Linda Nduwimana. Both seniors have years of tennis experience and come with family connections in the sport. They also both play multiple sports at ELHS, making them great competitors and athletes as noted by Buckberry. 

French-Croll, a four-year varsity member, was a part of the doubles pair that helped qualify the team for states last year. Her partner, Kiwi McGill, has since graduated. She will be matched with a new partner this season, something that has happened each year, and is looking forward to it. 

 

“I really don’t know who I will be playing with yet, but I am excited to work with them and make sure we make my last year the best it can be,” said French-Croll. 

 

Buckberry brings years of experience having coached the junior varsity for four seasons, before switching to the varsity level, for now, her sixth season at ELHS. This experience has enhanced her coaching abilities and given her the chance to watch many players develop over the years. Buckberry understands what needs to be done in order to help the new players. 

 

“I think it’s really important to just focus and take it one step at a time with the newcomers and make sure they feel comfortable, but they’re also having fun as they play each match and practice every day,” said Buckberry. 

East Lansing High School
Credit Alexis Downie
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Linda Nduwimana, Cosette Buckberry (coach), and Felicia French-Croll.

 

The Capital Area Activities Conference (CAAC) underwent changes, restructuring teams prior to the school year. This realignment takes place every four years and will impact the Trojans’ opponents this season, as there are three separate divisions. 

 

ELHS is in the Blue Division. 

 

The team placed second in the conference last year with a 7-1-1 record, as its only loss came to Okemos – the conference champion. This season, with the addition of new teams, the title will be up for anyone to take. 

 

Even with the change in conference and addition of half a new team, one goal remains the same for the Trojans – make it to states. The seniors believe that this goal will help set the standard for the season. 

 

“I look at other teams and some, you can tell are separate, like it’s about the players themselves,” said Nduwimana. “But I know this team really is about the team. I look forward to coming and playing here with them each day.” 

 

In recent years, Buckberry noted that the team has made it to states about every other year. Its highest finish, eighth place, came in 2014. The Trojans look to expand their goals this season, under the experienced leadership of Nduwimana and French-Croll. 

 

East Lansing High School
Credit Alexis Downie
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“I honestly love seeing the players develop and give a great effort every time they step out onto the court,” said Buckberry. “There’s nothing better than getting into a really competitive match and being able to pull it off.” 

 

The first match of the season for the varsity team took place at ELHS on Tuesday, April 9 against St. John’s.

 

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