Tennis season comes to an end

Staff Written Sports

A question and answer interview with Coach Stacy Dearing-Manger brought the Morgan County tennis season to an end.  Here are her thoughts on another great year for the Bulldog netters. 

Tell us about your seniors?

Our seniors are outstanding human beings. I’ll start with Holly Phitidies: blessing to have on the court. Her smile – lights up my day. She is willing to do whatever is asked. Holly joined us her sophomore year and has shown commitment and team spirit. 

Ben Gill – I’ve known Ben for a long time. He’s helped me grow as a coach. He is a very bright and courageous young man. He fascinates me with his quick wit, sense of humor and easy going style. He’s been a joy to coach for the past four years. I’ve learned a lot from him. 

Owen Anderson – another young man that I’ve known for a long time. Owen has tremendous communication skills. He has shown a great deal of integrity for the sport and is fearless – that’s what I love about him. 

John Cardwell – true leader. He always includes everyone in everything – never leaving anyone out. He has kept us all together – demonstrating team unity – again true leader. John is an incredible athlete. I’ve received complements on him from other coaches. A true gentleman. 

What were some of the highlights of the season?

It was a great season. I truly enjoyed coaching this fine group of young men and women. The fight to win really grew over the season. It was incredible to watch. Reflecting back I’ll be honest, I knew it was going to be a tough building year. But these players really showed true grit, tenacity and a a yearning to win. They are fighters. You could really see their confidence grow with each match and each practice. Like Sara Moore – I’ve really seen her build confidence. She is attacking the ball and giving her opponents a run for their money. 

Another highlight was our number one doubles team of John Cardwell and Owen Anderson. I loved watching their comeback against Franklin County – down 0/5 and came back and won the first set 7/5. They went on to win the match. Amazing play. 

One of the great highlights was the girls placing Runner-Up in the La Grange tournament. The tournament was really a treat for the entire team. Thanks to a collaborative effort of the MOCO Net Booster Club and MOCO Athletic Department this team was able to experience some tremendous competition on surfaces (clay) that they’ve never seen before. It provided team unity and motivation to play more and more. The tournament helped us grow as a team. 

I’m really impressed with how much the team has worked hard on their game. Tennis is not an easy sport. It takes skill, good mechanics and dedication. On weekends and after practice I would see Joah Plumely, Wyatt Breedlove, Emily Webb, Chesley Paschal, Owen Anderson, Ramon Zamudio and Garrett Cribbs out there on the courts putting in extra time and practice to be the best they could be. That’s what it takes. 

Joah has been a delightful addition this year. He fires up his teammates and keeps our stress level low. He’s got a wonderful spirit and tremendous sense of humor. He has tremendous talent and skill. Other ones to watch are John Kirby Murdoch, Will Thompson and James Martin – players with tremendous talent and skill, great sportsmanship and willingness to go above and beyond for the team. 

As the season continued on our first dubs team – McCall Chamberlain and Rachel Dickson just got better and better. They sealed the deal for us at the region tournament in the 2nd round against Hart County. They learned from each other and how to work together as a great doubles team. This MOCO tennis team wanted to win for each other. At the region tournament – they ALL played hard – especially the boys. After Joah’s number one singles win and one doubles win (John and Owen) you could see how much fight Will Thompson and Wyatt Breedlove put into their matches – trying so hard to get the win for their team. They wanted it and not just for themselves. They wanted it for their team. Abbey Adams and Karlie Lane – these two ladies are true competitors. With each match you could see their competitive spirit grow. When the girls played Jefferson (always a tough competitor) these two really fought hard and brought “their A game” stepping up against tough competition and played well.

How did the girls do against Westminster in the first round of the State Tournament?

Westminster was tough. The girls fought hard. Our two dubs team of Chesley Paschal and Zoey Brown was really incredible. After being down 0/6 in the first set; they came back in the second 5/7 – I’m taking that as a victory. That is so difficult to do and they really showed their “never give up” attitude. The girls scores did not reflect the long rallies and points that were truly earned against a tough team. Each and everyone of them should be proud of their performance.

Who are some people you would like to thank?

 I have SO many people to thank. In order to build a great team, you have to have an outstanding coaching staff. I’ve been blessed with an incredible coaching staff of Jill Cribbs and Shane Phitidies. Jill has the biggest heart. She loves each and every one of our players and I saw that love every day on the court. She is always putting the players first; keeping us organized and thinking of every detail. 

Shane Phitidies – God was looking out for us when he brought Coach Shane to us. The dedication and time he has put into our players is truly humbling. He has brought years of tennis teaching and experience to us and on his own, volunteered time. I can’t thank him enough. I have so much respect for him. I’ve learned so much from him and the kids adore him. 

MOCO Net Boosters – without their support we couldn’t have gone to the LaGrange Tournament and given our kids something special. Creating sponsor posters and fund raisers. I’d like to especially thank Robin Harrison – she always did a beautiful snack table at our events (we received compliments from other teams) and making sure the players received snacks at away matches. Robin always threw out the red carpet of MOCO Tennis hospitality. Sloan Gill for his constant support and dedication to MOCO tennis over the years. His constant support of the team and the great sport of tennis has been incredible. Sloan is always going out of his way to keep the kids playing. Stacey Kirby – for keeping us together and on the right track. Stacey is always willing to help out no matter what. Her dedication and support of MOCO tennis astounds me. I am truly grateful. Jennifer Olgelsby for stepping up this year and being the Booster President. Jill Murdoch for her constant support and help with the region tournament and last, but NO MEANS LEAST – KATHRYN CARDWELL. Oh my goodness – we couldn’t do it without her! We pulled off another successful Region Tournament again this year – 3rd year in a row. Kathryn kept us organized, made sure everything was managed and taken care of – the tournament was a well-oiled machine. Every detail taken care of. Kathryn is amazing. 

I’d also like to thank AD Connelly – for believing in me and giving me a great opportunity to coach a great group of kids. Greg Thompson – a great mentor and tremendously supportive. 

I’d also like to thank the Morgan County Rec Department for being a great partner; accommodating us and supporting our team. 

It’s been a great season, but it doesn’t have to end. Players – keep playing! I encourage readers to get out and play – it’s a sport of a lifetime and we are blessed with an amazing facility. See you on the courts! 

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