The Russell County High School tennis teams have high expectations for this season, both for themselves as individuals and for the team as a whole.
McFall looks for return trip to state
Junior Lucas McFall was the lone Russell County tennis player to make the state tournament last year, and he’s looking to make a return trip again this season.
In 2021, McFall took home third place in the region tournament, and even though he was unseeded in the state tournament, he won his first match easily — 6-0, 6-0 — to reach the second round before falling to the eventual state runner-up.
This season, he hopes to build off that success and learn from the experience.
“I got to see the best people in the state at the state tournament,” McFall said, “so having that experience, you can see just how good some people are and your competition that you’ve got to go up against to have success at that level.
“I hope to get at least top two in the region this year and make it to … the third round at state this year.”
McFall said the team as a whole is shaping up to have a good season as well.
“I think we should be pretty good,” said McFall, who has been playing tennis since sixth grade. “We’ve had the same team for a couple of years now, and we’re juniors and seniors. We should be pretty good because I know we’ve played a lot.”
Fellow junior Jaxon Popplewell echoed that sentiment.
“Hopefully, we’ll get as far as we ever have this season,” said Popplewell, who is in his third year of playing tennis. “We have some new players, but they’re doing pretty good … We just have to try to stay focused and have fun playing.”
The boys’ roster includes:
• Lucas McFall
• Jaxon Popplewell
• Jay Bailey
• Carson Buras
• Paxton Trautman
• Joe Bolen
Lady Lakers look to continue trend of steady improvement
With the start of a new season, the Lady Lakers are confident that the work they’ve been putting in will lead to continued improvement for the squad.
“We’ve been working pretty hard this season,” said sophomore Ellie Terry, who is in her fifth year of playing tennis. “We’ve been hitting it hard. We would come in every day, so I think we’re gonna do a lot better than we did last year. We’re more prepared.”
“We played a lot over the summer last year, and I think that’s gonna help a lot,” added sophomore Jasmin Grant, who is also in her fifth year as a tennis player. “I feel like we’ve been able to improve since quarantine kind of stopped everything and now we’re just gonna keep getting better.”
Junior Grace Jennette, who is in her second year playing tennis and will be playing doubles this season, added that part of the team’s improvement will come from the players pushing each other in practice.
“I feel like it’s gonna be a pretty good year,” Jennette said. “We have a bigger team this year than we did last year, so there’s more opportunities for everybody. Personally, I feel like I’m gonna do good this year. I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress since last year.
Terry’s primary goal this year is to just keep seeing herself improve and to “get better from last year.”
Jennette and Grant both pointed to keeping positive attitudes as something they hoped to continue working on throughout this season.
“Since I’m playing doubles, I guess I just want to keep working on my teamwork skills but also just not getting down on myself,” Jennette said. “Like, if I’m losing, I think I have a bad habit of doing that, just giving up, but I think just perseverance and doing my best are two things I want to keep improving.”
“I just want to try really hard, and like last year, I would get down a lot like Grace said, but I just want to try to persevere through that all this season,” Grant added.
The girls’ roster includes:
• Grace Jennette
• Abby Helm
• Ellie Terry
• Jasmin Grant
• Breanna Trautman
• Jaylen Hill
• Khloe Stephens
• Presley Wyatt
• Harley Silverman
• Alexis Fox
Both teams off to strong starts in first matches of the season
Both teams had their first match of the season on Monday, taking on Clinton County.
On the boys’ side, in singles play, Lucas McFall won 6-0, 6-1; Jay Bailey won 6-1, 6-1; and Jaxon Popplewell won 6-4, 6-4. In the lone doubles match, Carson Buras and Paxton Trautman lost 4-8.
On the girls’ side, in singles play, Ellie Terry won 8–2 and Jasmin Grant won 8-0. Grace Jennette and Abby Helm won 6-3 in the lone doubles match.
Steven Kinder is the head coach of both tennis squads, and the assistant coach is Deron Polston. See the image below for the full tennis schedule for this season.