Boonville Lady Pirates tennis coach Melissa Harvey said consistency will be the key for the 2020 season.
With 14 players suited out for the upcoming season, only two of which are returning starters, Harvey said several of the junior varsity girls from last season have really stepped up their abilities and technique.
“We have been practicing our form for forehands and backhands a lot to get their body in rhythm where it does it automatically,”Harvey said. “If they can stay consistent with the form of their swing, they can move to the next most important key element, which is placement of the ball on the court.”
Ball placement will be huge this season for the Lady Pirates, especially with just one returning letterwinner.
Nonetheless, Harvey said the goal this season is just to grow and learn and be better than yesterday. She said the girls are always asking, “what am I doing wrong.” That shows me they want to make changes to better themselves, Harvey said. That is something I love the most about our girls. As their coach, them wanting to be better is all I could ever ask.
Of course the Lady Pirates weren’t too bad last year in Harvey’s first season while finishing 6-4 overall. And while Boonville and Osage are the only two teams in the conference with a tennis team, there is no conference in tennis. However, in a head to head meeting last year, Osage defeated Boonville 7-2.
This season in singles, Harvey will look to sophomore Emma Neidig to lead the Lady Pirates at the No. 1 position. While finishing 7-3 at the No. 2 position in 2019, Harvey said Neidig returns with a lot of experience playing outside of high school play. “Emma attends tournaments on her own and really works nonstop to be a better player,” Harvey said.
Senior Molly Amos has also grown into her role as the No. 2 player this season for Boonville. While finishing 9-1 last fall, Harvey said Amos knows how to keep her cool in a tough situation and power through long matches as well. “She was our No. 6 last year and was my go to girl to put in a win for the night,”Harvey said.
Junior Arji Webster will step in at the No. 3 position this season. Harvey said Webster’s consistent has led to her position in the No. 3 spot, however, the No. 3 and 4 positions are very much the same in their play. “Arji also knows how to stay cool and collected when in tough situations and her work effort has been impeccable this season.”
At the No. 4 position, Harvey will look to no other than junior Abigail Pannell. Although Pannell continues to grow each day, Harvey said her drive to be better has gotten her into this position.
“Abigail has worked countless hours this summer to improve and it really shows,”Harvey said. “We are working on her confidence because that is something very important to have when being in the varsity lineup, but I know she will get there.”
At the No. 5 position, Harvey said junior Kate Schneringer will step in at that position when she returns from an ankle injury. Harvey said before the ankle injury, Schneringer was stepping up her play.
“Her strokes have gained proper form and more consistency than last year,” Harvey said. “She also plays with confidence and strategy, which led her to this position. We can’t wait for her to get back in the lineup for our matches.”
In final spot in varsity singles, Harvey said junior Hailey James will be the No. 6 single player while junior Lilli Hendrix will play at the No. 7 spot. She said both of the players will have to step up into the positions ahead of them due to Schneringer’s injury.
“For the first week of matches, Hailey will st at No. 5 and Lilli at No. 6,” Harvey said. “Both of these ladies fought a hard fight for their spots. Their challenge matches were very close and tye even ending up having to play three challenge matches against each other to decide on their spots. Overall, both of these ladies have prospered and grown so much.”
Harvey said the doubles teams are still up in the air.