ARDEN – There was a wonderment about this year’s Christ School tennis team and how the Greenies would react to new spots in the lineup.
“We’ve got a senior-laden team,” coach Laneal Vaughn said. “We have five seniors who have played in some periphery roles in the past and the question was whether they’d be able to step up and play higher positions on the team and take over the leadership roles.”
Vaughn can stop questioning.
Christ School has opened the season with six straight wins. This is the first time in Vaughn’s four years that this has happened.
Seniors Kiffen Loomis (No. 1), Kyle Luce (No. 4), George Thornton (No. 5), Nicholas Smith (No. 6) and Harris Smoots have comfortably moved up the ladder to fill spots by departed players.
After a 6-3 win over Asheville School earlier this week, the undefeated Greenies (6-0) sit atop the Carolina Athletic Association Conference standings in the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association.
“Everyone is focused on our team goals to win the conference and then go from there. We’re focused on every day and trying to get better,” said Luce, who has posted a 5-1 mark over the season. “This year we’re a really deep team. We don’t have any superstars but we have guys, even those who aren’t starting for us, who are ready to play. We’re not really surprised. We’re just happy with the results.”
Along with the seniors, Vaughn, who graduated from Roberson and played on the professional tour for three years in the 1980s, has two sophomores in his lineup.
German exchange student Andreas Lederer and Stephen Saye are sophomores in the No. 2 and No. 3 slots, respectively, and neither has lost this season.
It’s the lower part of the order, along with their doubles teams, that has pushed the team to this great start.
“The bottom part of the lineup is just as important as one, two or three,” said Smith, who is 5-0. “They mean the same thing (points-wise).”
Most of the kids on the squad don’t play tennis year round but prior to this season they worked hard and got extra training.
“They’ve all stepped up and played their roles,” said Vaughn, who owned the Asheville Racquet Club for 17 years and is now a partner in the Little Caesars franchises in Western North Carolina. “We’re consistent at the bottom of the lineup and that’s where we’ve had our greatest success.”