ST. GEORGE – Charging out of the gates of summer right into the girls tennis season, the Dixie Flyers look to six seniors to lead the way.
Seniors Savannah Topham and Kenedi Cooper top a list of six seniors and two juniors who battle to fill the seven varsity spots for Dixie.
“I’m excited for our team because I think we’re going to do really well,” Topham said. “We’ve been working really, really hard even before the season started.”
Topham and Cooper took private lessons during the summer and made sure to go out and hit any chance they got.
Giving an outlook on the season, both Topham and Cooper pointed out that they’re excited to see what senior Rachel Barney can do.
“She’s good,” Cooper said. “She played tennis before, but this is her first year playing it for school.”
Head coach Eric Christensen said it’s fun to run with different lineups in the preseason to find out who can do what and figure out where to put players for the region season.
“We have six seniors and a couple juniors who are fighting for the seven spots,” Christensen said. “We’re about eight or nine players deep.”
Christensen said he’ll lean on Topham and Cooper, who have played three consecutive varsity seasons, and junior Kelli Stovall.
With the adjustment in the schedule allowing the first round robin of region matches to be played as part of the preseason, Christensen said he doesn’t feel the immediate pressure to figure out his team all that quickly like he’s had to in the past.
“That’s always my least favorite thing about the girls’ season,” he said. “It’s such a short turnaround and time to prepare, but you just hope the girls have been playing in the offseason.”
Picking doubles combos, especially, needs time. Christensen said his passion is doubles tennis because of the strategy behind it.
“Doubles is my love,” he said. “It’s harder to pick the doubles players because they’ve got to have some chemistry.”
Christensen played doubles in high school, and that’s where his passion grew for it.
“I think it’s more fun than singles,” he said. “Doubles is a lot more strategic and positioning, so it’s seeing those girls that understand the bigger picture — shorter points, good volleyers, and more importantly is girls that get along with each other and willing to talk. You kind of have to be vocal. You’ve got to have a little personality.”
The first round robin of region matches is underway. After opening the season with a 5-0 loss to Desert Hills, Dixie bounced back with a 5-0 win against Hurricane on Thursday.
Follow Richard Briggs on Twitter, @BriggsRich.