Azle High School’s team tennis season came to an end in the Oct. 14 area championship round, but the Hornets could take home a sense of pride and accomplishment.
In fall, tennis is played as a team rather than an individual sport. Azle won a fall team bi-district championship for the first time in school history.
High school spring tennis is played as an individual sport, with athletes winning or losing matches on their own rather than earning points toward a team score.
Practice begins now to prepare for the spring.
“This time is very important for improving our players’ games and getting them stronger and in better shape,” said head coach Hayden Huff.
She and assistant coach Jared Ewing have observed the athletes performing during the fall and “pinpointed certain things for each player to work on during off season,” she said.
During the fall season, the team was hitting the weight room twice a week. Now, the team will heft weights three times a week until spring. During that time, the players run two miles a week and time themselves.
“Their goal is to run it faster each week,” she said.
In fall, the athletes play one or two matches a day at practice. In spring, a successful player must be able to play four matches in a day.
Last week, Huff quizzed players on their goals for the spring season regarding tennis and fitness.
“We talk to the kids about these goals, how they will accomplish them, and who will help hold them accountable,” she said.
Practices change, with more focus on drills and re-learning the basics while playing fewer match plays.
Flowers aren’t the only thing blossoming in spring. The season shines light on the most talented players, because they are competing individually in singles and doubles events at tournaments.
“We could have some good success in boys doubles and girls doubles in the spring,” Huff predicted.
One youngster to watch is freshman Emily O'Neill, who played No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles this fall.
“Everyone should be on the lookout for her,” Huff said. “She will be doing great things. She only lost two singles matches our entire season — this includes non-district matches. The two matches that she lost were in the third set tie-break by two and three points.”
Spring tennis season begins in January.
- Wade Blake
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