By Tim Chambers
Two decades ago was a fun time in Johnson County. Bizzies had their two for a dollar hotdogs and Hardees was introducing its monster burger.
Johnson County had something special going on too in spring sports.
The Longhorns had a “monster” tennis season, winning the girls and boys championships. The baseball and softball teams provided some big wins despite a fifth place finish for both.
It was Pete Pavusek’s first year as head baseball coach and Dana Smith was in her third season as head softball coach. Steve Arnold had been at the helm of the tennis program for 14 seasons.
The year was 1996.
The Lady Longhorn netters had opened the tennis season with a 9-0 win over Volunteer. Christy Jenkins (Gentry) and Vangie Eldreth (Winters) led the assault playing in the No. 1 and 2 slots respectively. Winters remember the season being a special one.
“We worked hard during the season and over the summer,” said Winters. “I spent my summers on the courts at the pool playing. Coach Arnold was running the pool, so it was nothing for me to be down there every day. I remember some 6 a.m. practices during the season. Christy and I were very competitive. We had a lot of good young players around us.”
The same could be said for the boys.
They finished the year at 9-3 and were co-champions in the conference.
Nathan Hardee and Jonathan Bauguess played well all season long and Tim Tugman won his last six matches.
The boys opened the season with a 5-3 win over Beaver Creek and sprinted out to a 4-0 start. Diego Lamar won his first four matches and Coach Arnold was very happy with his team’s play, especially the girls.
They ended the year at 7-0. Christy Jenkins, Vangie Eldreth, Maggie Phillips and Marlee Muse finished with 6-1 individual records. Elizabeth Trivette amassed a 7-0 record playing in the six slot. Alecia Shephard added a 4-2 mark and Miranda Snyder won three matches.
Bauguess and Hardee finished the year 9-1 and 8-2 respectively.
Jenkins made an impressive showing in the District, placing fourth.
“The expectations were high because we had a lot of seniors who had played together for a while,” said Christy Jenkins Gentry. “I remember the 6 a.m. practices and that we played a lot of road games. This was the best team that I played on. I had never played a competitive sport until I started played tennis. I fell in love with the game.”
Gentry is now a sixth grade teacher at Mountain City Elementary School. She was an all conference standout for three seasons. She didn’t hesitate when asked if she had ever considered coaching tennis.
“I would love to but the timing has never been right. It’s something that I would enjoy if that opportunity ever came back up. I learned a lot playing for Coach Arnold. You always want to give something back to the school that you played for. I would give it my all.”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.