Wilson modified Gutknecht's serve, grips and techniques. The progress Gutknecht made was steady, making her into a much more effective player.
She played first doubles on junior varsity last season as a freshman. This fall, after hours and hours of hard work, Gutknecht not only landed a spot on the varsity, she moved into the second singles position.
Her rise through the ranks of Mendham's program, traditionally one of the best in Morris County and New Jersey, surprised even her.
"I thought I'd maybe be first or second doubles on varsity," Gutknecht said. "I never thought this would happen. This has exceeded what I expected."
She shouldn't be shocked about what her retooled game did for her. Gutknecht's forehand is much improved and produces well-placed winners. Her serve is more effective.
"We needed someone to step in," Mendham coach Ed Chando said. "Katie is so focused. She's been consistent with her groundstrokes. She'll get better and better. Katie was a little nervous in her first match but she'll get there."
Gutknecht, who said she "had butterflies," fell to Emily Eckert of Mountain Lakes in her varsity debut last week.
"I was a little tight. Today, I tried to loosen up more," she said.
She certainly seemed more at ease, securing a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Morristown's Nayna Shah.
What aspect of her game is Gutknecht most proud of?
"My forehand," Gutknecht said. "I love it. If I can, I run around and hit it inside out."
Her goals this season "are to keep it up, move well, hit good shots and win my matches."
Another Mendham sophomore, Casey Marx, prevailed over the Colonials' Maya Epelbaum at first singles, 6-0, 6-0. The Minutemen's Tara Buchney beat Andrea Wright-Macedo, 6-0, 6-0.
Sammie Southard and Nevi Shah of Morristown took the first set at first doubles but lost to Hayley Keith and Veronica Fojtu of Mendham, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2. At second doubles, Michelle Miller and Gabriella Caradini of Mendham posted a 6-2, 6-4 win over Julianna Kobus and Amy Wenrich.
In 2010, Mendham went 16-2 and was sectional runner-up. This time out, the Minutemen (2-0) could be just as successful.
"I think the chemistry is already starting to come together," Chando said. "Once the girls are supportive of one another, it helps a lot."
Jeff Tukel, in his first year as Morristown coach, is waiting for his squad's first win. The Colonials opened with two tough opponents, Mountain Lakes and Mendham.
"There's been improvement in the last two matches," Tukel said. "A lot of our girls went from JV to varsity. That's a big jump. The girls will learn from every match and keep their heads up. They're always positive."
Tukel praised Southard and Shah for taking a set from Keith and Fojtu. Keith, along with Alex Chernin, who graduated, were Morris County Tournament champions at first doubles.
"We can hit with all of the kids," Tukel said. "Experience is what we lack. We don't have enough yet to win the points or the games."