By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Tennis season finally got underway for Johnson County on Tuesday after bad weather had forced several matches to be postponed.
The Lady Longhorns kicked off the season with an impressive 8-1 win over Sullivan North, but the boys were swept 9-0 by the Golden Raiders.
Johnson County’s new head coach Zack Pittman acknowledged his girl’s dominating performance and also saw some good things on the boy’s side.
“I thought girls played exceptionally and I saw some good things from the boys despite the loss,” said Pittman. “Mason had a very tough opponent who is one of the league’s best and Dalton Sluder played pretty good in his match. Will Henson hasn’t been playing but a few weeks, but he held his own. Noah Cox and Noah Nelson each lost close matches and very well could have won. This was the first ever match for some so we’ll get better as the season progresses.”
The most impressive performance belonged to the Cox twins, Taylor and Olivia who made a strong run in the District last year. Taylor took her singles match 8-1 while Olivia prevailed 8-2. They earned an 8-0 loss in their doubles match.
“It felt great to be back on the court for our opening match, but I need to get back in shape,” said Taylor Cox. “She worked me hard in the singles match because I am more confident playing doubles. I believe we have a pretty good team if we can get some time outside. It has been frustrating because we’ve had three or four matches canceled because of snow and the cold. Everyone on the team has been waiting around for this.”
Taylor made quick work of her singles match, and Olivia wasn’t far behind. Pittman liked what he saw out of the sisters who he thinks can be even better.”
“Coach Craig Cox works with Taylor and Olivia all the time, and it shows,” said Pittman. “They keep the ball in play when playing doubles, but I want to see them challenge the net and hit some balls back hard because they can do it. Taylor Parsons played well despite being a newcomer. Hailey Cannon played good in her match and so did Margaret Morrow despite losing a close one.”
Cannon played as the No.3 seed and earned an 8-2 win in her match. Parsons was impressive in her first match ever winning 8-0.
Morrow lost 6-8 playing in the fourth slot but did team up with Cannon to win handily 8-2 on the doubles side.
The Longhorns earned forfeits in the final two matches because North had only five players. Stanley kicked off play against a very strong opponent who has been a hard out in District play over the past three years. He was defeated 3-8 as was Henson who played as the No.4 seed.
Dalton Sluder, Noah Cox, and Noah Nelson each lost 5-8 in close matches.
The Longhorns played tooth and nail with North in doubles before dropping a pair of nail-biters.Stanly and Sluder lost a heartbreaking 6-8 decision while Henson and Nelson were edged 7-9.The Longhorns had to forfeit two matches because they only had five players dress.
“Our kids work hard each day, and many of them like the Cox girls, Mason, Dalton and Noah stay over after every practice,” added Pittman. “We get better with every match. The kids were happy to be outside. It is a great group to work with.”