Senior finishes third in 3A state tennis tournament

20151014__0002After fighting hard to win their last conference match against East Henderson, Coach Allen Combs called the Lady Falcon tennis team together.

Looking around at the group of players, Coach Combs broke into a grin.

“All right, ladies,” Combs said. “How does it feel to have just won conference?”

As a team, the Lady Falcons went undefeated in conference play. They finished the regular season 16-4.

“This has been my best season, as far as results, and our team was awesome,” senior Savannah Smith said. “We accomplished our team goal, winning conference, which is really awesome.”

Smith finished the regular season undefeated and qualified for the 3A individual state tournament. She finished third at the state meet, losing to Sarah Jiang from Cox Mill, 6-0, 6-1.

“It felt great accomplishing all of my goals after I had put in all of the hard work,” Smith said. “It felt even better because I improved my fifth place state finish from last season.”

The doubles team of junior Mary Elaine Bridges and senior Kendall Gilliam also qualified for the 3A state tournament. The pair finished the regular season 9-3.

“We kept positive attitudes, and we always wanted to push ourselves to be better than we were last year,” Bridges said. “We switched things up in our line-up. It was different, but I think it was really good for us.”

Sophomore Brandi Byers attributed the team’s success to their positive approach.

“We’re really close to each other, so no matter how we played, we were always supportive of each other,” Byers said. “We helped each other stay positive. The community of tennis (players) makes it a positive sport.”

The two seniors on the team, Smith and Gilliam, often served as mentors to their underclassman teammates.

“Savannah and Kendall were definitely big leaders on our team,” Byers said. “It’s going to be sad that they are leaving. Next year it’ll be hard to fill the leadership this year’s seniors had.”

Team members said they felt good about how their season turned out.

“We exceeded our expectations this fall,” Byers said.”We wanted to win conference for our seniors and our coach, and we did. We worked really hard this season and had a lot of fun doing it.”

By Emily Turpin

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