Callaway tennis team ready for state
Published 11:35 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s all been leading up to this.
The Callaway High tennis players made their way to the school’s tennis courts on a January afternoon for the first practice in preparation for a new season.
Now, three months later, the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams are hoping the hard work they’ve put in will pay dividends.
Both Callaway teams will be in Atlanta today to take on Washington in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament, with the matches set to get started at 11 a.m.
Callaway’s girls’ team finished third in Region 5-AA to earn its state invitation, while the boys’ team placed fourth in the region.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Jared Nation, who plays number three singles for Callaway. “I’m ready to play. We’re going to do our best, and hopefully we’ll make it.”
Junior Brooke Townsend, Callaway’s number one singles player, said the team has worked hard getting ready for state.
“I feel like we’re very prepared,” she said. “We’ve been doing a lot of drills and practicing a lot. Even on Saturdays and Sundays we’re practicing.”
The Callaway teams feature some individuals who play the sport year-round and have their own coaches, and others who only took up tennis when the season began.
One of the veterans is Townsend, who has been a leader for the girls’ team the past few seasons.
While concentrating on her own game, Townsend has also been there for her less experienced teammates, especially with head coach April Bunn in her first season.
“In the beginning of the season, coach didn’t know everybody,” Townsend said. “And I knew everybody since I’ve been playing, and I knew about the fundamentals and what went on during the season, and everything we do. So she had me help them with serves, and teach them the techniques and fundamentals since they’re new.”
Another one of the veterans is Madeline Sikes, and she’s also been happy to lend a hand.
“We had a lot of freshmen coming on the team this year,” Sikes said. “Me and Brooke would help them with learning how to serve, and hitting forehands and backhands.”
Bunn has been impressed with the progress some of the new-comers have made, including a handful of football players who gave the sport a try.
“This year we had a lot of football players come out,” she said. “John Curtis decided to take on tennis, and he’s improved a lot, too. So he pretty much taught himself. He kept doing it until he got it.”
One of the helpers on the boys’ side is Nation, who is always there for anyone who needs some help.
“I try to show them some ropes, all the newcomers, and help them out,” Nation said. “They’re all doing good.”
Nation is one of the busiest athletes in the school. He plays football in the fall, he wrestlers during the winter, and he’s on the tennis court in the spring.
Once tennis season ends, he won’t get much of a break with spring football coming soon.
“It’ll be right back to weight training,” Nation said. “But it’s OK. I enjoy staying busy.”
It’s been a few years since a Callaway team won a match in the state tournament, and the current players are ready to end that drought.
“It’s very exciting,” Townsend said. “We’re ready.”
TEAM MEMBERS: Brooke Townsend, Madeline Sikes, Callie Shelton, Sydney Ramirez, Casey Moon, Kelly Lin, Ashley Juarez, Sammanthia Webster, Dhayna Portillo, Josi Mulliniks, Hyan Seonwoo, Sir-Michael Johnson, Jared Nation, John Curtis, Austin Ozley, Aieyon Saeed, Eubin Bak, Alex Cho and Audrey Hidalgo.