Rebels netters set to open tennis season
Town Crier Sports Staff
Riverside enjoyed another banner season in tennis in 2005, finishing as State Runner-up in team play while capturing the Class AA State Doubles Championship. Head Coach Terry Conner thinks the Rebels have an excellent chance of duplicating last year's feat.
"I think we have a good shot at repeating our doubles championship, but I just don't know who that team is going to be yet," said Conner. Senior All-State player Jordan Adcock returns as one half of last year's championship duo, but playing partner Tyler Timms is now honing his skills for the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville. Conner is currently debating on who to team Adcock with as the Rebels attempt their repeat.
"I am still trying to decide on what combination to use and what is going to work out the best, but I certainly think we have a good shot at repeating," said Conner.
Conner has a talented group of returnees to choose between, including senior Blake Barnes, as well as a trio of juniors including Garrett Weaver, Glen Graham and Casey Hook. Weaver teamed with M.J. Emery to advance to the state tournament last season and is making a strong bid to pair with Adcock this year. Barnes, who sat out last year, also has state tournament experience as he teamed with Timms to advance to the state semi-finals in 2004. Hook enters the season as the player Conner describes as "the most improved on the team." Graham also has made tremendous strides and with his 6'7" frame forms a formidable presence at the net.
"One of those kids will jump in there with Jordan, and whoever comprises the second doubles team will be very strong too," added Conner.
Seniors Cliff Kramer and Shawn Mathews along with junior Cody Richardson also return, giving the Rebels even more experience and depth. Sophomore Nick Bagley is the only newcomer on this year's team.
Adcock will open the season as the number one singles player. Barnes will play at the number two spot while Hook will start the season in the number three position.
"Jordan (Adcock) really has his confidence up this year and has been working really hard on his game," stated Conner. "Blake is getting things back together after sitting out last year. Casey is really coming on. He is starting to hit the ball hard and getting his shots in. He is doing a good job."
Conner looks to get as many players as possible qualified for this year's state tournament, giving the Rebels a better chance to pile up points and make a run for the state title in team play. "I think we will be have two really strong doubles teams and we have at least two pretty decent singles players. The more we can get qualified for state, the better off we will be," said Conner.
The Lady Rebels return four players from last season's team. The Lady netters feature an all-sophomore lineup including Katey Campbell, Morgan Emery, Kailey Holt, Holly Dudley, and Christy Ward. Ward is the only newcomer to a young but experienced squad. Conner expects several freshmen to report before the season starts to add some depth to the team.
Campbell will open the season at number one singles. "Katey has improved a whole lot. She is hitting the ball really well and really hard. She and Morgan Emery will be the number one doubles team. Kailey Holt and Holly Dudley are coming along good and Christy Ward is starting to hit the ball good. We should be pretty decent. We hope to qualify one of our doubles teams and hopefully one of our singles players for state tournament play this season," said Conner.
The Rebels open play Aug. 28 against pre-season conference favorite Crowley's Ridge Academy in Jonesboro at 5:30. The Falcons return three of the top players in the area in Aaron Hudson, Jonathan Huggins, and Jeremy Cohen. Riverside's schedule also features two match-ups with arch-rival East Poinsett County, and well as trips to Trumann and Westside.