PCHS tennis battles elements, youth

Published 3:35 pm Friday, April 8, 2011

PCHS’ No. 1 player Madison Alexander (front) prepares himself for action against East Henderson with doubles partner Christian Fahnley. The No. 1 doubles team won their match. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

The sun making an appearance Thursday, April 7 brought out a ready-to-go Wolverine men’s tennis team that easily put away wins in six singles matches against East Henderson before going on to dominate the doubles matches as well.
Coach Richard Davis said he was glad to see his team faring well on the court after battling their strongest foe, poor weather, most of the season thus far.
“It’s sort of difficult to swing a racket in 40-mile-per-hour winds and rain,” Davis said. “So, we’ve had quite a few canceled. I don’t think in all my years coaching we’ve ever had to postpone so many matches because of weather.”
The team stands with four wins, four losses and a conference record of one win and two losses, with four other conference matches canceled because of weather.
Davis is optimistic, though, about the ability of his young team to pull out a good season.
“We’re young in a few spots, which has hurt us some, struggling in a few of the big matches,” Davis said. “But overall it’s just a good learning year for them.”
Davis said he has been impressed with the growth in his top seed players Madison Alexander, Sam Vining and Ben Stockdale.
Alexander moved up in the ranks from the No. 6 spot last season to No. 1 this year. When asked what moved Alexander so high up in the seeds, Davis said sheer determination.
“This kid has a tremendous work ethic,” Davis said. “He worked hard all summer going to a lot of tennis camps and working on his skills. No. 1 is a tough spot to play in. Madison played sixth last year and that’s a big jump in competition.”
Vining, in the No. 2 spot, maintains the best record for Polk on the season. Vining has only lost to 4A opponent Crest High and Hendersonville, a team that, according to Davis, is notorious in the area for its stellar tennis program.
“Sam is just a good competitor. He’s a scrapper and a fighter –– he’s going to find ways to win,” Davis said.
In the third spot, Ben Stockdale has come back after missing the season’s first two matches with an ankle injury. Davis said Stockdale has “probably the best stroke of any player I’ve ever had here.” Davis said Stockdale needs some experience and should come back stronger than ever next season.
Overall, Davis said he’s been proud of some of the things the Wolverines have been able to accomplish. Even a loss in the team’s second match against Crest showed promise in Davis’ eyes.
He said the Wolverines went into the doubles set against Crest 4-2 and all Crest needed to seal the deal was to win one doubles match of the three.
“Both my No. 1 and No. 2 teams pulled out victories and my No. 3 guys really stuck in there but lost, so we lost the match. But for us to even have a chance playing 4-2 with the competition we faced, I was proud,” Davis said.
Individual singles play results on the season: Madison Alexander 3-5, Sam Vining 6-2, Ben Stockdale 4-2, Christian Finley 5-3, Patrick Rimer 4-4, Nicholas Morse 2-2 and William Morse 3-2.
In doubles play, records are as follows: Alexander/Finely are 7-1 on the year, while Rimer/Vining are 3-0 for the season so far. The third doubles team playing April 7 was a winning combo of Stockdale and Morse.
Weather permitting, the Wolverines go on to play Hendersonville at home April 12 and will travel to face Thomas Jefferson April 14. Following spring break the team will face Owen at home April 26, with the conference tournament also looming that week.

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