by Coach Kevin Record
March 18, 2017
Don't blink. The season goes by fast. Only three weeks remain before the district tournament.
Thus far, I'd give this group an "A" based on its effort, commitment and improvement.
The boys and girls both finished second in a field of eight at the City Championships and I was plenty proud.
Let's start with the ladies. Sophomore Jules Grady suffered a slight fracture in her left wrist and has played the last three weeks with basically one hand. In the long run, it will make her a better player. She's expected to be near full strength later this week and she'll be dangerous. Her game gets better every time I turn around. Bigger forehand, better footwork and, now, a one-hand backhand has been added to the arsenal.
Senior Leta Ashebo has played well since returning from a week-long college visit. Her speed and tenacity make her tough for anyone to handle, and she gets better in doubles every time she takes the court.
Abby Birkmeier is having nothing short of a stellar freshman year at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles. She also gets a better understanding of doubles with each passing match and her competitiveness in singles is ever apparent.
Senior super student-athlete Anna Cay Ford has been a rock at No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles. The 4.0 student, who ranks third in her class, advanced to the finals in singles at cities.
Junior Tory Russell filled in nicely at No. 5 singles at the City Championships for sophomore Tiffany Stout, who had a prior commitment in Europe. Russell advanced all the way to the finals, playing a key role in the Lions' second-place finish.
Stout has played well and shows a competitive edge that lends itself to a bright future. Her big forehand and big serve will only get bigger. When she goes to the net with confidence on a regular basis, the competition will surely suffer.
On the boys side, senior Scott Epting has played well against the area's best competition and continues to develop an aggressive style which should bode well for him down the stretch.
Epting has done a nice job at No. 1 doubles with junior Kellen Long, perhaps the most energetic player I've ever coached.
Long continues to expand his singles game as well, working diligently on his serve-and-volley tactics to compliment his strong ground game.
And then there is the No. 2 doubles duo of Will Green and Thomas Einarson, who, like Epting and Long, advanced to the finals at the city championships.
You don't always know what you'll get from Einarson and Green in terms of execution, as they can sometimes mix brilliance with calamity due to growing pains, but you do know you'll get an infectious passion for the game, which is nice.
Both juniors also continue to improve in singles as first-year starters. Their best is yet to come, I feel certain.
Sophomore Will Bullen has also been a bright spot and his love for the game is also readily apparent. Along with Einarson, he advanced to the finals in singles at the city championships.
Bullen, who wears a size 14 tennis shoe, will be a force to be reckoned with before his career is over, no doubt.
We have a busy few weeks before the district tournament at Tom Brown Park next month.
There's a tough match with cross-town rival Lincoln on Wednesday followed by an overnight trip to district foes Fort Walton Beach and Crestview. The kids always like a road trip and so does the head coach.
Then the following weekend there's a trip to Jacksonville for our annual matches with Ponte Vedra and Bolles.
You got to love it.
See you at the courts.