Tennis team, with a large group this year, prepares for season opener
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
We always strive for great sportsmanship within our conference and pride ourselves on being one of the best teams to play in our league. We normally see steady weekly improvement as our season progresses. I would love to speed up that process and see our athletes become stronger competitors. I’m always proud of how our team represents our school and community.” – Mark Sloan, Grayling High School Tennis Coach
Grayling High School’s varsity girls tennis squad has a large group of players this year – many of them have significant varsity playing experience – and the Vikings will get to practice and play in a new facility this year.
The tennis team started its official practice sessions for the 2017 spring season on Monday, March 13. The squad mostly practiced inside at the Grayling Middle School gym, but the Vikings were able to get outside for one session prior to spring break.
Grayling High School installed a new tennis facility last year. Workers removed the previous facility’s fences and nets and playing surface and replaced them. The new facility is located in the same place as the old tennis courts (behind Grayling High School).
Tennis balls bounce differently in the gym compared to the actual court, so going from indoor to outdoor practices requires adaptation.
“It always takes a day or two of adjustments when we switch from playing in a gym to outdoor courts,” Coach Mark Sloan said. “Indoor practice with a large group always creates some logistical challenges on just what we can and cannot do.”
Coach Sloan said early practices inside included a lot of “conditioning and skill drills.”
Prior to the beginning of official practice sessions, the squad did a few things during the offseason to help get ready for the 2017 spring campaign.
“Two girls were awarded scholarships at the Boyne Mountain Tennis Academy this past summer and felt the program was very beneficial. A group of seven athletes went to the Dow Pro Women’s Tournament in Midland for instruction and to watch the semifinal match; they loved it,” Coach Sloan said.
The Vikings have solid overall numbers this year with more than 20 players.
“We have 25 girls this year with a full group that has played varsity tennis at least once. We have seven seniors; four played varsity three or more years,” Coach Sloan said.
Strength of the team?
“We have four experienced singles players coming back,” Coach Sloan said.
(A tennis meet features four singles matches and four doubles matches.)
The team’s current focus?
“We need to work on the skill parts of the game and strive to never give up on winning a match,” Coach Sloan said.
“We always strive for great sportsmanship within our conference and pride ourselves on being one of the best teams to play in our league. We normally see steady weekly improvement as our season progresses. I would love to speed up that process and see our athletes become stronger competitors,” Coach Sloan said. “I’m always proud of how our team represents our school and community.”
Coach Sloan said the squad’s goal this year is to “be competitive within the (Lake Michigan Conference).”
“Traverse City St. Francis and Harbor Springs always have very strong programs in our conference; we would love to be next in line behind the two of them. East Jordan has a strong team and Elk Rapids and Boyne were very competitive last year. We have our work cut out for us,” Coach Sloan said.
The Vikings will host East Jordan at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11. On Thursday, April 13, the tennis team will host Traverse City Christian at 4:30 p.m.