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Making Some Racket

Ilana Williams, Life & Arts Editor

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     Under the direction of a new head coach, Mayson Salley, tennis players are working hard to improve their skills. District team play ended Sept. 29, with the Raiders earning a 3-3 record, finishing fourth out of seven teams. The players earned a position in post season playoffs for state.

   “This year the coach has tried to motivate us so we’re excited to play,” sophomore Ariel Williams said. “Coach Salley is really driven and wants us to be good. It’s different, because last year it was like, ‘if you want to play, you can play.’”

    To help achieve their goals, players complete more focused drills and strength training. By using a different training strategy, they also experience more of a challenge on the court.           

    “Coach Salley wanted us to mix up our placements,” freshman Nitka Girsh said. ‘It used to be just the players with the two highest ranks playing together, but other schools had different placements playing each other, and he wanted us to do that. We are improving the players who have third, fourth and fifth ranks.”

    Before Girish joined the team, she played competitively in United States Tennis Association, and she continues to do so.

    “The coach knew I competed outside of school, and he knew I was a Super Champ, which is a high level in tennis,” Girish said. ”He wanted me to play on the varsity level, so I would have better competition than in JV.”  

    To increase their skill level, players practice four times a week from 2:30 – 4:30, running drills that target groundstrokes, volleys, serving and other tennis fundamentals. They also run every other day in practice. Working closely with his students, Salley is getting to know each of their games, including their strengths and weaknesses.

     “The players seem to be enjoying the new structure and tightening of bonds as we all try to find our center as a new team,” Salley said. “They work well together, and everyone’s game has shown greater consistency.”

    Right now, the biggest struggle for Salley is dealing with different schedules and bringing the players together to think and play as a team.

    “I feel very lucky to have the group of players we have this year,” Salley said. “The kids have been super supportive, and the Raider coaching staff has also been a huge support system.”

    For the most part, the biggest goal for the tennis team is to win matches. However, the players make sure to have fun while they compete.

    “Having fun is what tennis is all about,” senior Cade Alexander said. “It’s fun, but it’s different. We’re a lot closer this year, and we’re all part of different clubs at school, but we all play tennis together. When we’re outside of tennis we’re different people, but when we merge together,  we’re one big family.”

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Making Some Racket