The East Peoria girls tennis team hopes its depth translates into a fruitful 2009 season.

The East Peoria girls tennis team hopes its depth translates into a fruitful 2009 season.

The Raider varsity team consists of nearly 20 players, some of which actively hit over the summer, and many have similar abilities.

With a high concentration of juniors, the outlook for ’10 also is good.

East Peoria was enthusiastic about Monday’s non-conference match vs. Washington.

“The girls are ready,” EPCHS head coach Shane Smith said. “We’re excited to see what we can do.”

Seniors Rachel Bourlet, Alejandra Martell and Anna Dibler and junior Nicki Alwan are among the returnees.

Juniors Caylee Nabors, Kari Hoffman and Emily Crim have advanced from last year’s frosh/soph squad.

Smith projected Alwan and Bourlet would be the No. 1 doubles tandem and  Dibler and Martell would be partners with a position to-be-determined.

The rest of the roster includes: seniors ­— Sunni Monday, Brentny Brown and Megan Heflin; and juniors — Jazlyn Mangis, Justine Milligan, Montana Melz, Ally Kilty, Levi Svymbersky, Paige Ashley and Rachel Ryan.

The Raiders were sixth overall in the league in ’08 after a 1-5 dual record and sixth-place tournament finish.

Metamora is trying for its third straight M-I crown.

Traditionally, the Redbirds, Morton and Dunlap have been the top-three teams, although the Eagles plummeted to fifth a year ago.

Smith expects improvement throughout the conference.

“I feel like all-around, the competition will get tougher,” he said.

East Peoria’s schedule, including appearances in September tournaments hosted by Pekin and Central, is the same this year.

Monday afternoon, the Raiders lost 7-2 at Illinois Central College to Washington in a result that will not factor into the league standings.

Dibler and Martell were singles winners for East Peoria.

Dibler rallied for a three-set victory, while Martell prevailed in two sets.

All of the Lady Panthers’ wins came in straight sets in a preview of the teams’ Oct. 6 M-I dual.

Washington, with many returnees, was fourth in the conference a season ago.

The Raiders attempted to rebound yesterday when they took on Kewanee.

The season continues Tuesday with a trip to Bartonville for the M-I opener against Limestone.