"The boys were just outmanned by players who play tennis at least seven months out of the year. The girls, on the other hand, lost a match they should have won," Excel coach Mark Hibbard said.
Hibbard said the season was very tough on the girls team, which lost its No. 1 singles player to an ACL injury months before the tennis year began.
Senior Abbey Hibbard was bumped up to No. 1, and Catherine Harris and Caroline Moore also had to move up to Nos. 2 and 3 singles.
Mark Hibbard said Harris and Moore learned a lot about singles play.
"Both will do a lot better next year if they get some lessons, train more and play USTA tournaments throughout the year," Hibbard said. "Both have potential but lack the edge that comes with competing on a regular basis in either team tennis programs, like ALTA/USTA team tennis or USTA tournaments."
Playing Nos. 1 or 2 doubles for the Lady Eagles this season were Taylor Vaughn and Betsy Lochridge, whom he said improved as the season went on.
Abbey Stegall, Dani Brown and Emily Willingham rounded out Excel's roster. They mostly played exhibition matches but can get into the top seven with some work, Hibbard said.
"We will lose only one girl this year but will pick up two promising freshmen next year, one of which is playing tournaments and working hard," he added. "Overall, I am proud of these girls, and what makes me most proud is the Christ-like attitude they consistently show even when playing girls way below their level of play. The most memorable example was Catherine Harris playing an exhibition match with a girl from Woodland after she had won a three-set match."
The Excel coach also expects his boys team to grow next season.
"The boys had a lot of close matches that they now realize will go in their favor next season after they have played competitive matches during the offseason," Hibbard said. "Most of these boys do not play other sports at Excel so this will give them a chance to do what most athletes do not get to do, which is focus on one sport."
The Excel coach spoke about how each individual player did during the season and where they can improve down the line.
"Ben Perkins trained more this offseason but needs to play a lot more tournament tennis to get the edge it takes to play No. 1 singles," he said. "A breakout player this season was Stephen Barton. In a tight situation [during] a match, I played [him] at No. 2 singles and he never went back to doubles and gave 110 percent in every match, even though he was playing boys with a lot more experience and instruction.
"At No. 3 singles was La Chaz Phillips who came off the basketball court and onto the tennis court, which is really hard. He learned little things here and there and will help us next year."
Jake Newhouse, Jake Rouse and Andrew Tyree all improved and will continue to do so with more instruction, he added.
"The thing I like most about these boys is their attitude, even when they are playing boys that have played a lot of tennis," Hibbard said. "We will get one, maybe two more boys next season, which will help us fill an entire lineup so we do not have to forfeit No. 2 doubles every match, starting one point in the hole with each match."
"I am proud to have both tennis teams at Excel because I never have to worry about inappropriate behavior or bad attitudes," he continued. "These kids are great, and I just hope they learn that tennis can teach them many life lessons that they will draw from later in life."