Emily Dillard returns as the Lady War Eagles tennis coach this season after stepping away from coaching for a year. She has a solid core four returning, even though none are seniors.<br><br>
Junior Annie Stribling will likely play No. 1 singles. She caught Dillard’s eye even as a freshman. The quartet of Stribling, Abby Snipes, Bernice Portal and Emily Gilchrist are four experienced players, who were on the team when Dillard coached two years ago.<br><br>
“Rachel Grom is one who has caught my eye in summer practices,” Dillard said. “She’s a freshman. I think that means a lot to show that commitment, come out and put in the time.<br><br>
“I’m super excited for the potential of this team with just two seniors and none of that core four is a senior.”<br><br>
Heritage boys coach Taylor Tinsley coached both teams last season.
Dillard isn’t sure how the doubles teams will be paired yet among those top four players. <br><br>
“It will be great to see some combinations and see how they work,” Dillard said. “I gravitate more toward doubles because that’s what I played. I have a passion for doubles. It’s nice to see the chemistry between the two players when they click.<br><br>
“I think with practice and more communication we can have some push to make the state tournament.”<br><br>
Rogers Heritage War Eagles
Tinsley had four of his top six players with varsity experience led by Harrison Downard and Aaron Grom.<br><br>
Nick Zondlak, a junior, played as a freshman but opted to run cross country a year ago. But he’s now back on the tennis court. He will likely occupy the No. 1 singles spot for the War Eagles, Tinsley said.<br><br>
Downard, a sophomore, and Grom, a junior, have showed solid improvement from a year ago, Tinsley said.<br><br>
“Grom keeps improving on a daily basis and Harris Downard played as a freshman,” TInsley said. “Jacob Morris is a senior, who has played tennis before, but will likely see some varsity time.”<br><br>
Grom and Downard will likely play No. 1 doubles, while Morris and a yet undetermined partner will play No. 2 doubles. Glynn, who has missed some preseason workouts, could slot in at No. 2 singles.<br><br>
“Sophomore Tyler Patulak is one who keeps winning challenge matches and moving up the ladder,” Tinsley said. “We’ve got 20 kids out. This is a hard-working group. It’s the most participation I’ve ever had in summer practices.
“Nick has good potential and I really like the doubles team of Grom and Downard even though they didn’t play together last year.”<br><br>