Girls Tennis Teams Want to Go Further than Last Year
Aug 24, 2016 03:37PM
● By Billy Swartzfager
Jordan’s Jill Holley, Hannah Dutson and Makena Terry take a break from practice this summer. —Billy Swartzfager
By Billy Swartzfager / [email protected]
Tennis season for girls is upon us once again and the Jordan Beetdiggers, who placed fourth at state last season, and the Brighton Bengals, who finished sixth, are getting ready to serve and return to the tournament in 2016. Matthew Bell, who has been the head coach at Jordan High School, for both the boys and the girls, for 10 seasons now, says he aims for every player to qualify for the state tournament, held in early October.
“We always have the goal to qualify everyone for the state tournament, then we just hope for some wins once we are there,” Bell said.
The team has some very good players returning for the 2016 campaign, including Hannah Dutson, a senior, who was a state finalist last season in first doubles. Makena Terry is also returning for her junior year. Last season she was region champion and a state quarterfinalist in third singles. Another senior, Jill Holley, will be suiting up for the last time in 2016, after contributing as a varsity player every year she has been a student at Jordan High School.
Brighton has similar goals.
“We hope to repeat our first place title in region and place higher in state,” Brighton Head Coach Natalie Meyer said.
The Bengals want to go a step further once in the state tournament, though.
“It would be great to see the whole team playing on the second day of state,” Meyer said.
Brighton has a handful of returning players as well. Sarah Meitler, a junior, is currently holding the top singles position. Other returning varsity players are seniors Sarah Fackrell, Maddy Totland and Kalei Taylor-Stroud. There are 16 returning players from last year’s region title team.
Region 3, where Jordan and Brighton reside, is a tough one. Teams like Bingham and Cottonwood are competitive teams, and, along with Jordan and Brighton, all finished in the top 10 in the state last year. The toughness of the region competition really helps to prepare the girls for the big end-of-year tournaments.
Many of the girls on both teams spent their summers staying active on the courts to be ready when the season began. Many took advantage of their school’s open court during the summer, while others took lessons at tennis clubs and played in tournaments throughout the valley. That added dedication and practice should help the teams in their quests to improve upon last year’s success in the year-end tournaments.
One such tournament the Beetdiggers plan on attending, in St. George, not only prepares the girls for the competition of a big tournament like region or state, but it’s also is a trip that most of Jordan’s team, including coach Bell, looks forward to.
“It’s always a rewarding experience to get to know kids outside of the classroom. Tennis seems to always provide a very fun and responsible group of kids,” Bell said.
Until then, the teams have plenty of match-ups to keep them focused, as well as practice, where the Beetdiggers spend an awful lot of time on rotation schedule where the team works on serves and ground strokes. They also key in on making opponents hit one more shot.
“The majority of points are won because one of the players hits it out,” Bell said. “We talk about it at least once a week in practice.”
Along with drills and challenge matches that determine position, Brighton’s players focus on improving their individual games and goals while keeping in mind the objectives for the team at the same time.
The teams work very hard at practice, but also find time to end their sessions with competitive games the players enjoy. According to Meyer, they have fun with team-building activities.
“Tennis is hard enough. Life is short, so enjoy the moment,” Meyer said regarding her approach to teachable moments.
Competing in practice, competing with region rivals and competing in tournaments are all aimed at gearing the girls up to participate in the state tournament to finish the season. With excellent track records and returning contributors, Jordan and Brighton have very good chances of achieving the goals they started the season with. And, with a little luck and some experience they’ll gain throughout the season, they are likely to win some matches both days at the state tournament once they get there.