By Kyle Lovern
The Mingo Central High School tennis team began their season at Lincoln County this past Saturday.
“We are an experienced team this year,” Central Head Coach Julius Hatcher stated. “We had an awesome season last year with one player, Kyle Surber, participating in state tourney in just our second year. The boys’ team this year has high hopes in both singles and doubles.”
Seniors Julius Hatcher, IV (No. 1 seeded player) and Kyle Surber ( No. 2 seeded player) singles players also team up as the No. 1 seeded doubles team for the boys. “They have been looking very well in practice; and a recent scrimmage against a young, but talented Belfry team showed they have high hopes this year, with impressive wins,” Hatcher said.
Seniors Brennon Slone (No. 3 seeded player) and Dakota Rawls (No. 4 seeded player) team up as the No. 2 seeded doubles team. “Slone and Rawls will make eyes raise; they have improved so much over the summer by just going out and hitting. I am encouraged by what this team has done in the offseason,” Hatcher added.
Newcomers are juniors Joey Wellman and Steven Clark, who will round out the boys seeded team playing as the No. 3 doubles pair. “They have been working hard to know the game and are getting better by the day,” coach Hatcher added.
Senior Emily Hatfield, seeded No. 1 and Maria Ramey, No. 2 in singles, will team up as the No. 1 doubles team for the girls.
“Emily has really been focused this year. If she plays the way she has in practice she can go to the states. Emily has natural ability and has really focused hard on her ground game. Junior Maria Ramey is a coach’s dream. She is quiet, but has a heart and desire to win. She plays to win,” Hatcher said.
“Ramey has every shot. A backhand, forehand, and one of the fastest and hardest serves on the girls side in the state. Hatfield and Ramey have a great approach to reach state tourney in singles and doubles this year,” Hatcher added.
Others on the girls’ squad are senior Taylor Blevins the No. 3 seed in singles and sophomore Megan Taylor the No. 4 seed in singles. These girls will be the No. 2 seeded doubles pair.
“When Taylor and Taylor play, as I call them, you are in for a match. If they are down they will grid every point until they have found a way to get back into the match. I’m proud of the way they have blossomed,” Hatcher stated.
Sophomores Ariel Ritchie and Kaitlyn Johnson will round out the girls’ team as they team up as the No. 3 doubles duo. “They have worked so hard this offseason and in practice. They have fun and will win matches this year with pure hustle,” Hatcher said.
The remaining boys and girls on the Miners team consist of: James Taylor, Julianna Music, Paige Tiller, Tori Cline, Charlsie White, Nikita Vincell, and Jessica Sturgell. All will see action in exhibition matches.
“We have 21 matches on our schedule and will play our first home match at the Larry Joe Harless Center this year, and hope to have a huge crowd. Mingo Central would like to thank them for the generosity of their facilities for practice. They have been awesome and upgraded just to help us and their community,” Hatcher concluded.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33)