Following a successful 2016 season that included a state championship, the tennis team enters the 2017 season in a rebuilding mode.
Captained by junior Natalie Parks and seniors Grant Mitchell, Jonathan Weatherspoon, and Natalie Parton, the team certainly has the experience to do well; however, most players on the team lack the experience in state tournament play that last year’s team had.
“It’s been really interesting because we’ve had a lot of younger new players here, and it’s kind of a rebuilding year, so it’s been fun to have an impact on how they play and to have a chance to really bring a lot of stronger playing to the team,” Parks said. “So to be counted on to lead the team is different.”
As upperclassmen and captains on a young and inexperienced team, those players will need to find a way to rally and encourage their teammates. They were able to do just that on Wednesday with key district wins against the previously undefeated Farragut boys and girls teams.
The boys (5-0, 3-0 District 4-AAA) beat the Admirals 9-0, while the girls (4-2, 3-0) won 7-2. Both teams tallied 9-0 wins over Heritage on Monday night.
Their success is coming despite no longer having Charlie Adams and Griffin Davis, who won the doubles state title as seniors a year ago.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Mitchell said. “Each year, new players come and go, and you think the team’s not going to be as good until someone comes on and makes the season great.”
Added Parks: “We have a really strong community. We’re really into bringing a team together so we do a lot of team bonding, and it’s been really good because the coaches are into building us up and pouring lessons and encouragement into us.”
However, the greatest team bonding may come at the beginning of the season at next weekend’s Oakland Invitational.
Both the boys and girls teams are already off to hot starts, but at the Oakland Invitational, players will get their first taste of action against some of the state’s top competition.
“I’m looking forward to Oakland Invitational because these first couple matches you have district then some out of district play and then when you go to Oakland, this travel tournament, everyone comes together and it’s really a nice start for the rest of the season, and we usually go from there on a hot streak,” Mitchell said.