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Limited practice time for tennis team makes for slow start

Tennis in Johnson County hit the ground running last week, taking two back-to-back matches on the road against Sullivan East and North Greene. With only three official practices under their belts, it was a rough start but still had some big surprises, especially from the girls’ freshman class.
Having no experience and limited time to learn, few people expected Ashtyn Henson to be able to keep pace with a veteran Junior player from Sullivan East, much less actually win, but that’s just what she did. Even more remarkable, Henson not only carried her singles match but went on to pair up with fellow freshman Gracie May to pull out a huge doubles victory.
“She had never played, she’s had three practices and she won,” explained Coach Steve Nave.
“That’s pretty good. They were pretty equal. It was a pretty equal match even though she was playing a junior. Anytime you play your first match ever, you’re going to be nervous and you’re going to need some luck but she played well.”
That win aside, the rest of the girls’ team held their own, but pulled out mixed results, something that was expected at this early stage in the season. Junior Dawn Lewis had a little trouble at East, losing in her singles match, but then came back with a big win in doubles with her longtime counterpart Amber Brown, and a solid singles victory against North Green the next day.
As Lewis pointed out, it wasn’t only the warm up period that was the problem, strong winds and bad weather also took their toll making the whole experience a true trial by fire. “We haven’t had that many practices and yesterday it was warm, but it was really windy,” Lewis said. “It was hard to concentrate and the ball would go everywhere. That makes a big difference. If the wind isn’t blowing, you can do a lot better, but with it blowing it’s hard to try to do anything.”
Fortunately things seemed to improve after only one match as Lewis lost her singles against East 1-8, but then bounced back to win against North Green by two, although it was a tough fight to the finish. “It was really close,” Lewis said.  “Either we would tie up or one of us would go ahead and we’d tie up again. It takes a while because we haven’t had that many practices. You just have to have faith and heart to win. We just have to keep working hard.”
Both Krista Warren and Tori Israel also had strong matches at both schools but the only other real victory came from the boys’ side of the program when the duo of Mitchell Stockinger and Andy Rosado managed to beat the competition from East. Winning 8-5 overall it was an impressive feat considering Rosado hasn’t really played since his freshman year. In their respective singles matches both players had close calls, but none more narrow than Stockinger’s valiant effort against North Green that ended up in a tie breaker.
“Mitchell had a real tough match here,” said Nave. “He lost a tie breaker, but again, we’re just getting in the groove. We’ll be okay. They were almost mirror images of each other. They were so close. It could have gone either way, just a lucky bounce here or there. Talent wise they were dead even.”
That match was against one of North Greene’s top seeds, a positive indicator of better results to come. Overall the Longhorns’ results for the first week were mixed, and although there are some things that will certainly need improving, Nave still seemed confident about the overall standings of the program.
“We’re playing okay considering that we’ve had three practices and the weather,” Nave concluded. “I don’t really have much to complain about. We didn’t win yesterday but they played ok. We had a few wins, but overall even the ones that lost played well. It’s just going to take us a while to get the rust knocked off.”