By Barrett Roberson.
The 17th state ranked varsity tennis Eagles went 3-1 last weekend, finishing their preseason at home with wins against Hobbs, Vernon, Hereford, with their one loss coming to Canyon Randall.
As the Eagles enter district play with a preseason record of 14-2, their one loss, prior to this weekend, fueled the team’s biggest win of the season, 18-1 against Iowa Park.
“Amarillo High, the team we lost to, they were such a tough team, and I feel like we competed well,” coach Stacy Bryan said. “We had some close matches but just didn’t win them. Whenever you have a loss like that when you’re so successful, it really kinda puts the fire in you the next match. You don’t like how it feels, especially losing so badly. They were determined to not lose like that again.”
Senior Griffin Sullivan had similar thoughts about the big win.
“I think losing to such a good team like that gave us a glimpse of a goal to work towards,” Sullivan said. “It gave us an example of what we need to do to get better, and seeing that helps us to come out stronger the next match.”
Losing wasn’t the only bit of adversity this team has bounced back from. After 13 players graduated, the team welcomed 12 new athletes. In addition the to player change, the team’s movement from 6A to 5A will also require adjustments.
“The fact that we’re 11-1 (Now 14-2) just shows me that we’re one of the top teams in the state,” Sullivan said. “After going down from 6A to 5A, I think that we’ve got a really good chance at making a run in the playoffs.”
While the team has been in transition, the leadership from senior team captains Griffin Sullivan, Caelan Barbarick, and Holland Wiggins have never been in question.
“We have good leadership on the team, a good group of seniors, some experienced seniors,” Coach Bryan said. “I think that is the key. They are a team and they act like a team. They support each other”
Leadership and supporting players are very important to how any team plays, and varsity tennis is no different.
“One of the reasons we’ve been so successful is because we’ve been so good at supporting each other,” Sullivan said. “We play together as a team, and I think that’s one of our biggest strengths.”
Despite the adversity this team has faced, being ranked 17th in the state and beating almost anyone that stands in your way, truly shows the strength of the players, and the team as a whole.
“When you’re 11-1, that’s quite a start to the season,” Coach Bryan said. “We have a lot of new people in the lineup. Our goal was to get better each match, and I feel like they’ve made tons of improvements. I’m just really proud of the start we’ve had.”