Tennis team looking to senior leaders
By LAUREN JETTE
While almost every sport offered at Liberty Hill High School has established a bar for success, the Panther Tennis program is still looking for its first big achievement. The fall team tennis season is still new at Liberty Hill, with the Panthers competing in this season for just the second time, but the Panthers are eager to start finding success to build upon.
One way the Panthers will find success on the court is through the seniors, including Devrie Duncan, who have been with the program over the last few years.
“We have a really solid team,” Duncan said of this year’s group of players.
“We graduated our top two guys, but then our top two guys are freshmen this year, so it’s looking really good. We didn’t graduate any of the girls, so we still have a solid team on that (side).”
A four-year varsity letterman, Duncan has seen a lot of change in the program, but is excited about this season.
“It’s been different every year because we’ve changed coaches so much, but they’ve all been really good experiences,” Duncan said.
“This year especially, because we’ve got a solid coach and a solid team now. It’s been good. I’ve been on varsity all four years, so I’ve had the experience of going to all the tournaments and just having fun with the team.”
Duncan first picked up a tennis racquet in second grade, after watching her older brother play.
“My brother was playing and I thought, ‘oh that looks like something fun to do’ so I decided to try it and just kind of followed in his footsteps,” Duncan said.
Tennis is a unique sport in that it is both team-oriented and individual, something that Duncan appreciates.
“(I like) the fact that you play individual matches but they combine to get your team score,” Duncan gave for why she enjoys tennis. “They’re not fully dependent on you, but it’s a good way to build a team. Unlike volleyball, where you all play together at the same time, you separate the matches.”
With three years of varsity experience, Duncan brings several qualities to the table, said first-year head coach Jacob Jones.
“She brings experience, she brings dedication, knowledge. She brings consistency,” Jones said.
“The seniors, especially those who have grown with the system are the backbone. When you have upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, who you can turn to and go ‘we need this out of you’, they usually can produce it and that really helps the team. “Those are the ones who can come in and help carry the under classmen, the students who are new and cutting their teeth.”
Although it is early in the season with district action a couple of weeks away, Duncan said the team is off to a good start.
“We won consolation in our first tournament, so that was a good boost for everyone, like, that’s what we have to look forward to,” Duncan said. “We played on Saturday and we lost 11-7, but to a really good team that sent people to state so, we feel pretty confident and it’s going well so far.”
The Panthers are ready to make a move in the district this season and advance past the district tournament.
“Last year in district, we were number three behind Lampasas and Taylor, but they both graduated all of their top players,” Duncan explained. “We feel confident that we can do better and maybe beat them this year.”
Liberty Hill holds a 3-2 record so far this season, but Jones said with each match comes experience, which will help the team achieve its goal of winning district.
“(With) each win or loss we incur, that’s going to help us for that next step,” Jones said.
“It’s not really about wins and losses right now, it’s about cutting our teeth and getting the players where we need them and getting them confident where they are at, so when it comes to our first district meet in a couple of weeks, they are ready,” he said.