Like many other programs, the Johnson County tennis team was not looking forward to their first official match against the Sullivan South Rebels. Knowing very little about the actual team, fans were expecting the worst and were justified in their concerns. Dominating their home court in Kingsport, the Rebels took the win in every single match up, claiming victories in singles and doubles for both the girls and boys teams.
They were just good and we lost. Thats about all there is to say, began Head Coach Steve Nave. They were what I expected, but also a little different. They were very consistent. They werent overpowering like Elizabethton or Unicoi but they were very, very good players. They were smart and consistent, something you dont see a whole lot in high school tennis.
Making things worse, one of Johnson Countys top four players on the girls side was missing in action. Injuring her shoulder at practice earlier in the week, Dawn Lewis was forced to watch from the sidelines as her teammates struggled against the surprisingly refined skills of Souths players. Amber Brown, Lewiss doubles partner was especially affected, casting doubt on whether she will play anything but singles for the remainder of the season.
Amber may end up playing singles in districts because of it but thats just something well have to figure out, Coach Nave said. Its going to give the freshmen a little more experience because everybody will have to move up one. Theyre going to be playing more meaningful matches. Amber will move up to the number three spot. Krista Warren will be number two, and thats ok because I always considered those four pretty equal. The top three I dont worry about. Four, five and six will all be freshmen and it will be good for them later. They may not realize it at the moment but its going to make them better.
Lewis injury aside, the loss is the third in a row for the Longhorns as a team. That said, tennis is a much more individualized sport and regardless of the overall record what it all really comes down to is how each player will perform at districts.
Im happy with our improvement, Im happy with how we are playing but I cant say how I feel about districts until we get that bracket, Nave said. Weve had good draws in the past and bad draws in the past. Its all luck. It depends on who goes singles and who goes doubles. We just look at each individual and see how we can get better before districts. Thats what we really work for.