The Woodford County High School girls’ and boys’ tennis teams have been practicing hard and are ready to start the 2017 season. “No question, we’ll be competitive,” said Woodford head coach Stan Watts. “We’re always pretty competitive. The truth is – we’re pretty darn good. The bad thing about how competitive we are is we play in one of the toughest regions in the state – Sayre, LCA (Lexington Christian), Lexington Catholic and Henry Clay – they always have players that go to state and do really well.” Still, even with all of those tough, private schools, Woodford is loaded with talent. The boys’ team lost three top players to graduation in Luke Least, the team’s No. 1 singles player and a two-time state qualifier, Wesley Smith, the No. 2 singles player, and Ben Goode, who was a solid singles and doubles player. Having said that, the team that will be playing this year is young, but has some good match experience. “The players we have coming back (on the boys’ team) are all pretty good tennis players,” said Watts. “I definitely think that we’ll be competitive and I think we’ll win more than we’ll lose. I don’t think we’ll go undefeated or anything like that. (But) … because we only have one senior on the team, in the next couple years, we could be really, really good.” While things could change before the first meet, eighth-grader Evan Bentley is slotted to play No. 1 singles on the team, while sophomore Mason McIntyre is No. 2, senior Max Wade is No. 3, sophomore Evan Spradlin is No. 4, eighth-grader Zach Stiefel is No. 5 and sophomore Ben Ison is No. 6. In addition, there are a few other players who will get some playing time and, should any players falter, they could move up to play in spots. Those players include sophomore Joe Kowalke, junior Chaicaripa Vatsarut and junior Eli Smith. As to who will play doubles on the boys’ team, at press time, it was still undecided. However, a lot of last year’s doubles players have returned, so it will just be a matter of seeing what player-combinations will be made and which ones will be successful. The girls’ team only lost one player in Haley Davis to graduation from last year, and return a good core of players that, with a year of experience, plus their play during the off-season, should also be very competitive. “We only lost one girl, so we should do better than we did last year because the players replacing her are as good or better,” said Watts. “… So, we should do a little bit better than last year” Again, while things might change before the first match, at No. 1 singles is sophomore Addison Beck, who reached the region quarterfinals last year – one match short of qualifying for state. At No. 2 is senior Reagan Jobe, with freshman Nicole Feldner at No. 3, Alyssa Feldner at No. 4, Ellington King at No. 5 and Caroline Miller at No. 6. Other players who should see time this year are juniors Katie Batman, Kassie Cooke, Sophie Edelen and Hinzee Smith; and sophomores Hanna Brady and Sophie Wingo. In talking about how much potential his girls’ team has, Watts noted that, “Addison plays pretty much year around. Nicole and Alyssa play year around. Reagan plays a lot. Caroline and her sister, Allison, have been playing in the offseason, so they’re a lot better. Ellington is really, really experienced. Katie Batman is a very good athlete, and before the season is over she could be really, really good.” As for who will make up the girls’ double teams, it has still not been decided. However, last year, the Feldner sisters were one of the team’s top doubles tandems, so they will probably be teamed together again. Also, the Miller sisters had a decent record playing together, so they could be paired up again. As to which teams should be the top competition in the area this year, Watts said, “It’s almost always the private schools – LCA, Sayre, and Lexington Catholic. Henry Clay is always usually pretty good.” The boys’ and girls’ teams begun their seasons on Monday, March 20, at Franklin County. Start time is approximately 4:30 p.m.
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