Starkville Daily News
Yellow Jackets using youthful roster on court
There is obviously an element of youth with the Starkville High School tennis team this season.
Coach Vanessa Shaffer has one seventh grader, an eighth grader and three freshmen, but the Yellow Jackets are optimistic as they progress into the first week of the 2023 season.
“They worked hard in preseason training,” Shaffer said. “The hopes of us doing pretty well this season are pretty good. I'm very proud of their accomplishments. We still have a very young team. One of our seventh graders (Donovan Shaffer) is on varsity this year and our girls are still young and learning. We've got Martina (Hoffman) back, who is our No. 1 in singles, so we're excited about that and Dean (Luke Lockhart) is going to win his matches most of the time. We've still got a lot of growing and learning to do overall as a team.”
Being the only senior on the SHS roster has its own set of challenges, but Charlie Clark likes what is happening around him.
“I see a lot of talent in the younger players for sure,” Clark said. “Most of our players are still in middle school if you look at the roster so a lot of them have a lot of time to develop. They are good talent and good people. I think we can definitely go far this year and definitely they can develop in the future and be great.”
The Jackets began the season on Monday at home with a 5-4 win against Pillow Academy. Getting individual victories were Lockhart in No. 1 boys singles, Hoffman in No. 1 girls singles, Brandon Shaffer and Donovan Shaffer in No. 1 boys doubles, Clark in No. 2 singles, and Townes Fulford and Abby Burkley in mixed doubles.
Coach Shaffer said Monday was a good start for her team.
“Getting this first match out of the way, we can see what direction we need to take from here on out and where we need to go mentally,” coach Shaffer said.
Starkville was scheduled to host French Camp today, but weather may prevent that from happening. The Jackets play Kosciusko on Friday.