S-C tennis shows new faces at the top

By Jason Strickland Democrat Sports Reporter

August 21, 2014

Some fresh faces will make up the Smith-Cotton High School girls tennis team after losing several players to graduation.

But coach Lensie Means said she’s seen positive signs out of the newcomers.

“It may be more of a building year, but some of our young ones are promising,” she said.

The players have been going through competitions against each other to determine the top players before Monday’s opening match against School of the Osage at Liberty Park Tennis Courts.

Means said sophomore Allison Burton and freshman Elizabeth Matz are pretty locked in as the No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Senior Allie Sproles has been part of the competition to be one of the top players as well.

“Based on what she’s done in the past, I’m pretty sure she’s going to end up being our No. 3,” Means said.

Means added that it wasn’t an easy choice between the three.

“They have all given each other a run for the money with their challenges,” Means said. “I think when you have three girls that are so competitive with each other, it’s a hard time to determine your No. 1, No.2 and No. 3. That’s a good thing because they are all competitive with each other, so that’s promising when we are competing with other teams.”

The Lady Tigers have been practicing five days a week since Aug. 4, and also hosted summer camps to develop the young team.

“We were able to get some basic drills and things in then,” Means said. “Now it’s just more basic drills, serving, getting our challenges done to try to determine the order.”

Elizabeth Matz is the younger sister of Smith-Cotton graduate, Kathleen.

“She’s helped me learn the game a lot better because she was really good,” Elizabeth said.

In practice, Elizabeth said she’s been trying to improve her follow through.

“Which I have problems with,” she said. “Mainly following through and not over hitting.”

Burton is stepping into a new role as one of the top players on the team. She said she was able to learn a lot last year to carry over to this season.

“I learned how to hit more consistently and placement, definitely,” she said. “Where to place it so they run back and forth.”

While the Lady Tigers may still be learning the game, Burton said she likes the improvement of the team so far.

“I think we can accomplish a lot,” she said. “There’s a lot of new freshmen but they’re learning.”