“Most of my varsity lineup are returning seniors — Conner Nichols, Keegan Shinall, Daniel Tello, Adam Tobin, Derek Everett,” head coach Kevin Tant said, “but I’ve added senior John Tate, freshman standout Corey Tobin, sophomore James Lester, and my sole returning junior, Chase Still.
“I’ve also added some dedicated freshmen in Brandon Parris, Grayson Roberts, No. 1 JV singles; and Austin Gowan and Max Corbin, No. 1 JV doubles. Sophomore Zach Putz claimed the No. 2 JV singles spot.”
“I know they want to go further in the region tournament this year than last,” Tant added, “and their play has improved so much that I expect nothing less of them.”
He said that team is putting in the kind of practice this year that will help realize its potential. “We practice two hours for each day we aren’t playing a match, and this has led to fewer unforced errors and double-faults.”
Tant said while there is more experience, the bar has definitely been raised for his team.
“The Woodland tennis team finds itself in an interesting position this year,” he said, “because though we remain in the same region, (Region 7A-AAAA) suddenly we are facing the defending AAA state tennis champions.
“We also found a handful of other schools that might lose one or two matches all season.”
The coach said the team has accepted the challenge: “However, even with an increased intensity and focus on playing good tennis, we find we are competing against players who have been taking lessons and playing league tennis since they were children.
“This does work to our advantage in some cases because of our unconventional style of play, especially in our doubles’ teams, but (it) works against us somewhat in singles as the power and accuracy of our competitors is imposed upon us.”
The coach said has responded to the challenges by “taking the wins and losses with the same goal, trying to improve from game to game no matter the opponent.
“It seems like every year is a rebuilding year for us, but we keep fighting — sometimes pulling out the win, sometimes not — and we continue to love tennis.”
Something that he also emphasizes, Tant said, is that his players get to experience the enjoyment that is such a big part of tennis.
“I never want it to become a game that we can't enjoy, so hopefully I pass that on to my players,” Tant said. “We have faced some incredible competition already this season and hopefully will continue to fight with a valiant optimism that will inspire others to love tennis as we do.”