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JCHS tennis gearing up for a new season

The Johnson County High School tennis program is gearing up for another successful season, having already competed in two early matches that have shown both promise and potential. This season Coach Steve Nave will have the challenge of helping both the boys and girls teams become the best players they can be. With each player having their own unique strengths and weaknesses, Nave will have his hands full, but seems more than ready to accomplish the task. “Our biggest strength right now is leadership, especially with the boys. Our top three are solid players and are really helping the younger players that are coming along. We only had one girl back from last year, since the others graduated, so it’s been tough with them. But they are really going to be good. They’re very athletic and they really want to play. They are working to get better,” Nave said.
One of the biggest problems the tennis team faces each year is helping the new players become familiar with the game. Unlike some of the other schools in the conference, such as Elizabethton and Unicoi County, most of the freshmen coming in to play Longhorn tennis have never been on the court before, providing a real challenge for a young team.
“Every four years we have a really solid team,” said Nave. “When they start as freshmen they have never played before, and it takes a few years to catch up to everybody else. They very rarely come in with any experience at all. Carlton Tugman had played for a couple of years, but normally they have never played at all. So when we go to play Elizabethton who have been playing their whole lives it makes it tough. It’s hard to catch up but we’ve been competitive.”
Made up of mostly juniors and one senior, the boys’ team has several years of practice and experience under their belts and a good opportunity for improvement in the younger players. But, for the girls’ team this season, which is made up mostly of freshmen, Nave will have to begin with some of the basics. Despite that, Nave feels that a strong drive to learn and play will quickly help them overcome some of these early problems. “We teach them to serve first, because without the serve nothing else really matters. Then we teach them how to score and play matches, mainly fore hands, back hands and very basic stuff before actually playing against each other. It takes about two weeks before they actually start playing,” he said.
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