By R. Alan Richardson
A year ago, the Morgan County net girls brought home a second place trophy from the Region Tournament, but failed to advance in the State Tournament. The boys lost in Region Tournament play while playing hard, according to Coach Stacy Manger. Their focus this year will be to use that success as a springboard for individual and team performance improvement. “It was a true heartbreak for the boys. I thought our run was very good considering we had lost some very strong seniors from the previous year,” Manger commented.
Key players returning for the fourth-year head coach were hard to come up with.
She said, “We have so many! In the last few weeks of practice we have been talking a lot about how important each and every player is to the team. Yes, we have “top/key players,” but they can’t get there without the rest of the team. Last week we discussed a quote from Kobe Bryant that I truly love: “I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.” Yes, tennis is an individual sport, but it takes three lines (singles/doubles) to win a match. It comes down to each and every player and how they help the team in practice, cheering them on, helping them with a drill and working together.”
Seniors returning for the squad include Zoey Brown, Sara Moore, Rachel Dickson, Emily Webb, McCall Chamberlain, Drew Cribbs, Garrett Cribbs, Wyatt Breedlove, Susan Bishop, and newcomer Jordan Shivers. “They are a wonderful group and are taking over the leadership of this team. They are the glue of our team.”
So, what are the goals for this year’s two squads? According to Manger, she asked her players that very question on a questionnaire and each and every one wrote, “To win a Region Championship.” “I believe in them and know they can do it.”
To reach that goal the Dogs will have their work cut out for them. Teams like Jefferson, Franklin, Jackson County, and Hart County will stand in their way. “These are great teams and great competition. We will be tested,” said the head coach.
One of the highlights for the season will be another annual trip to compete in the Grainger Invitational. Manger told us that the kids were really looking forward to it and that it was always a highlight for the teams.
There are many reasons for Manger to be positive about the 2020 season with a number of starters returning. Joah Plumley, Wyatt Breedlove, Will Thompson, James Martin and Garret Cribbs return for the boys while Karlie Lane, Sara Moore, Abbey Adams, McCall Chamberlain, Rachel Dickson, Emily Webb, Zoey Brown, and Chesley Paschal will return for the girls.
That core group will also welcome in a group of talented freshmen that includes Sarah Waldron, Amelia Potter, Amelia Glass, Zack Farese, and Tylar Griner. The 30 players participating is a “healthy number”, according to Manger.
Asked what her final comments were, Manger told us, “We have been focusing a great deal on the mental game. We have been discussing Jerry Lynch’s book – WIN the day philosophy. I feel this is true not only in sport, but in life. What are you doing to WIN the day? WIN stands for – What’s Important Now? Each shot, each day, each class, each accomplishment, and each moment of your day. Be in the moment. What have you done to win the day? At the conclusion of every practice I ask our players – “What did you do well today?”
Too many times we focus on what we did wrong. My question is, “What did you do right?” That’s what it takes to WIN the day. Our team mantra this year: One team, one drive, one point at a time. Words to live by. This is a great team and they can accomplish ANYTHING they put their mind to – one shot at a time.” That’s heady stuff. We can’t wait to watch your teams play.