Last Monday afternoon served as the first practice of the team tennis spring season and hopefully the beginning of some big doings in the eyes of head coach Joni Baxley.
“I'm really seeing some good things for them,” Baxley said ahead of her first spring at the helm. “I'm hoping we go to regionals because we haven't had a boys' doubles pairing go if not ever, then not for a really long time. Last year, we had the two girls go so it would be awesome to have some more go.”
That girls’ doubles pairing of Tina Pham and Rachel Faldyn broke a 21-year hiatus from the regional championships last spring but fell to Claire Novicke and Allison Wehring from Bellville in the first round.
This year, however, Baxley’s squad is loaded with plenty of returners she’ll rely upon for sizeable contributions.
“We have some solid doubles; JT Rassette and Carlos Godoy played in the fall, they're a pretty solid team,” Baxley said. “We have Brendon Beckendorff back from football and he's a pretty solid doubles player, he'll be playing with Austin Keeton. And then we have Eric Wilson and Jonah DeLozier, they'll be our boys’ singles and Macey Feland and Norman Juarez will be playing mixed doubles for us.”
Although DeLozier has been a longtime fixture for the Tiger tennis team, he had been contributing as a doubles player but this year he’ll have some different responsibilities.
“Jonah has never played singles for district so we're going to see how that works out,” the coach added. “He's ready for the season, he's pumped up for his senior year. All the seniors are preparing, they come out here every day ready to fight so I think we have some good stuff coming.”
He, along with his four other classmates, know this will be the last go-around and will be sure to take advantage of all this year has to offer.
“They've been leading the team really well,” Baxley said of her elder statesmen. “When the freshmen start doing stuff they're not supposed to they're like, ‘Hey, don't do that.’ That’s pretty good for me to not have to get on them to do that so they have been taking over and on days that I'm late, they come out here and start practice for me. I don't even have to tell them, they just know to come out here and do that.”
Not only that, but last Monday afternoon wasn’t the first time the athletes picked up a tennis racket or seen the courts, Baxley added.
“A lot of them came out during the during the Christmas break so they've been putting in the work and they're not too rusty, they're ready to work,” the head coach and Sealy High graduate said.
That work officially begins later next week with the first scheduled tournament that Baxley mentioned would present some new opportunities not seen before.
“We're going to some new places that they haven't been before for tournaments this year,” Baxley said. “We're going to College Station for one of them, we're going to Bastrop and we went there last year but the JV didn't go so this year, the JV will be going. Madisonville is another, we're doing a George ranch one and there are some other ones.”