Tennis interest growing at Casey

March 28, 2004|JILL ERWIN

LIBERTY - The Casey County tennis teams aren't the best in the area, but they think they're on the right track to someday getting there.

The Rebels are building their programs with youth and experience Two of Casey's top three girls are sophomores, while the No. 1 boy is also a sophomore.

But they're sophomores with plenty of games under their belts. Justin Martin, Casey's top singles player, was only the No. 6 player his eighth-grade year before ascending to No. 1 last year. Lindsey Sheene and Meredith Coffey, Nos. 2 and 3 for the Casey girls, played all of last year as the Rebels didn't have the deep roster they do now.

Now the Casey coaches hope that experience, mixed with some new players, will make this the dawn of a new day for Casey tennis.


"We have several new kids interested in playing," girls coach Lexie Boynton said. "As with any program, it's about building. The future looks good, but it's going to take time."

"I was fortunate enough to establish the program with people that had played before," boys coach Phil Williams said. "We've started to develop youth underneath us. We're still considered a young, young team."

Casey joined tennis world five years ago

It's been five years since Casey joined the tennis world. The girls team has five new members this year, bringing its total to seven, while the boys have players as young as fifth grade on the team.

Sheene said she thinks that influx of new talent will hopefully bring more success.

"We're getting a lot of new people this year, so we're hoping to do a lot better," Sheene said. "Last year was a winning year, the first winning year we've had, so I think we're going to try to do that again."

Coffey was in that position last year, joining the team in her freshman year. She said she wants to serve as an example for the new players.

"I expect our freshmen to be playing a lot better by the time they get up there (to the regional)," Coffey said. "I hope I can help them become better players and I hope they'll look up to me and the way that I play, eventually."

Iris Peyton is the lone senior on the Casey girls team and plays No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles (with Sheene) for the Rebels. She said she thinks the girls are better than they were last year, and have the opportunity to be even better by the end of this season.

But Peyton also wishes the teams had enough courts so as not to have to trade days of practice. As it is, with only two courts at their disposal, the teams are forced to share court time.

"I wish we could get more tennis courts," Peyton said. "It would help out a lot."

Working on their games is a key

Boynton said the key for her players will be to take advantage of any opportunities they have to work on their games.

"They're going to have to do this on their own time and their own effort," Boynton said. "The courts are open all the time, not just when we practice. It's just a matter of getting them to do that."

Martin has been doing that for the boys, working out all summer and taking instructions from several different people.

"He has the opportunity to play collegiately somewhere," Williams said. "He's getting stronger each year, and his skills are really improving. He has a pretty nice first serve and if Justin is on, he has the capability of being competitive with just about anyone."

Martin reached the quarterfinals of last year's 9th Region Tournament, and said the experience will be a big help for him this year as he works toward advancing further.

"Coming into it, I was a little scared because I'd never been in a tournament before, especially one that big," Martin said. "I saw how little effect it had on me, being scared, and I figure this year I'll do a lot better."

Pair of juniors are behind Martin

Right behind Martin on the Casey roster are a pair of juniors, Ben Allen and Charlie Fox, who both play singles and then team up to play No. 1 doubles.

Williams said he expects those two and senior Gavin Turpin to take on larger leadership roles. Both Allen and Fox said they are looking forward to helping the younger players fit into the Rebels' lineup.

"Last year we were really young," Fox said. "I expect we'll have a good year considering we've all got a lot of experience and we got to play a lot last year since we didn't have a whole lot of players."

"Tennis is a sport, if you have any athletic ability to you at all, it's easy to pick up," Allen said. "As long as you're out there, day to day, hitting balls, you can pick it up. We're only going to get better."

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