As usual, the Madison County High School boys’ and girls’ tennis teams are out to uphold tradition this spring. Or in other words: Winning big.
“Both teams have a rich tradition and our goals are to continue those winning traditions,” coach Keith Strickland said.
The goals for both teams are identical: win the North subregion, win the region, go to state and then see what happens.
The girls are seeking their 13th consecutive region finals appearance, sixth region championship and 13th consecutive state tournament bid.
Meanwhile, the boys’ team has gotten back on track after a brief hiatus from state tournament play.
“After returning to the state tournament last year after a two-year drought, the boys are working hard to get there again,” Strickland said.
Both teams are equipped with the depth and experience to meet their preseason goals.
The boys welcome the addition of highly-touted freshman Trey Morris at no. 1 singles. Morris is already a veteran tournament player and is ranked highly in the state.
After Morris, Madison County fields the same lineup that won the 8-AAAA North subregion in 2009 and advanced to state.
Jeffrey Branson is at no. 2 singles followed by Blaise Bolman, who’s at the no. 3 spot. Jake Scarborough and Chris Dove will play no. 1 doubles. Connor Hancock and Josh Dooley will man the no. 2 doubles spot. Connor Boyett is also playing this year and could see action at doubles.
“All of the boys playing at these positions know that every match they play is pivotal to us winning team matches and reaching our goals,” Strickland said.
The Lady Raiders return several starters, including Jeannie Bowen, Audra Minish, Alexia Supakorndej and Kaityln Hale, as well as Adrienne Fitzpatrick, who was sidelined all of last year with an ankle injury.
Bowen moves into the no. 1 singles position this year, but she’s the only Lady Raider with a hold on a spot so far.
“We are looking at several lineups and doubles combinations to see what will work best for us,” Strickland said.
Strickland added six freshmen could also vie for playing time in the girls’ lineup.
Like all other spring sports teams, the tennis squads had limited preseason time due to inclement weather days.
Strickland said that’s slowed both teams in preparation for a season that includes 11 matches during the first three weeks in March.
Both teams, however, responded well and won their openers against Stephens County 5-0.
“Match play is the best practice that we can have,” Strickland said.
MCHS netters open season with victories over Stephens, Franklin
Both the MCHS boys’ and girls’ tennis teams are off to 2-0 starts and have yet to surrender a point.
Madison County began with a pair of 5-0 wins over Stephens County Feb. 18, and then a pair of 7-0 wins over Franklin County Tuesday (Feb. 23).
Madison County broke from high school tradition against Franklin County and played the matches in a college-type format.
“We played the college format — three lines of doubles and six lines of singles,” coach Keith Strickland explained. “To win the doubles point, one team had to win 3-0 or 2-1. Each singles match counted as one point.”
Against Franklin County, Strickland noted the play of his top two boys’ singles players — Jeffrey Branson (no. 2 singles) and Trey Morris (no. 1 singles).
“I was especially pleased with Jeffrey Branson’s play,” Strickland said. “He came on the court with a great attitude and played a very good match.”
Strickland noted that Morris defeated a quality opponent in winning his match in straight sets.
“Trey Morris played extremely well and defeated a very good player 6-0, 6-0,” Strickland said.
Strickland said his entire girls’ line up played well, noting that KayLee Bates rebounded to win her match at no. 6 singles 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
“KayLee Bates played a little tentatively in the first set but stayed focused in the second and third sets to win the match and give the team the 7-0 win,” Strickland said.
Strickland said the college format allowed players lower on the ladder a chance to see some action.
“I was pleased with the depth that the players showed in winning at every position,” Strickland said. “We had some great matches.”
Strickland said both teams are still a bit rusty, but the Franklin County victories gave the boys’ and girls’ squads something on which to build.
“With the weather causing us to miss so much practice recently, we definitely have a lot to improve on,” Strickland said. “But this win helps to build our confidence and momentum as we head into region play next week.”