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Boys tennis has solid reason to be excited

South Boston News
Members of the HCHS boys tennis team are, from left, first row, Luke Redd, Drew Salley, J.T. Francis, Andrew Kim, Trevor Riddle, Minjune Kim and Wyatt Francis. Second row, assistant coach Michelle Palmore, Grayson Balance, Ben Irby, Owen McAbee, Manager Maci Henderson and head coach David Riddle.
SoVaNow.com / March 11, 2019


Halifax County High School boys’ tennis has solid reason to be excited about the upcoming spring campaign. The coaches have done a good job improving the overall culture of the program and the Comets have considerable talent returning.

Halifax has a capable head coach in David Riddle, and assistant Michelle Palmore adds another level of leadership for the program.

“To say that Coach Palmore, myself, and the team are excited to start the season is an understatment. Coming off our first ever undefeated regular season yet falling just short of advancing in regionals, we want to continue to carry this recent moment that the tennis program here has had,” said Riddle.

“We lost two key players that had been a huge part of the top six the past two years in Jacob Wenzel and Gordon Taylor. Wenzel was the Piedmont District Champ last year, and together they were one of the top doubles teams in the area last year. While those losses are really tough, we feel like we have been reloading instead of rebuilding the past few years. If you look at the past 4-5 years, we have always lost multiple players at the top of the ladder, but the players advancing on the ladder have all stepped up their game, and those coming in for the first time have played big as well. We are looking to see the same thing this year,” said Riddle.

Right now, Halifax has seen a tremendous amount of competition in the matches to set the ladder. Riddle has always explained that the beauty of this sport is that you beat the person in front of you and you get the spot. The fact that these guys have been pushing each other will only help us as a team.

“Drew Salley has emerged as the top seed. Drew has been on of many success stories that we have had over the years. He came in as a newcomer to the sport in eighth grade last year, has worked hard during the season and offseason on his game, and right now he has an opportunity to lead us at the top. We are looking for him to build his confidence as he has climbed up the ladder this year,” said Riddle.

“Ben Irby is currently our two seed. Ben is another of those guys that came in a few years back not really having played before, but puts his all into his work and has done a lot to improve his game. He actually spent some time at the two spot last year so he has the experience at a top ladder position. As a captain and player we are going to look to his senior leadership.

“Number three Owen McAbee, like Ben, is our other senior captain. Owen has been a huge part of teams over the past three seasons that have gone 39-5. He had a big season last year and we are going to look for that to continue this year.

“Minjune Kim is our number four seed and the lone junior on the team. Minjune really stepped his game up last year and improved and had some big wins for us. “Luke Redd comes in at number five. Luke picked up tennis for the first time last year and saw huge improvement as the season progressed. He got some experience late in the year in the ladder in singles and doubles and got alot of exhibition matches under his belt as well. We are looking at him to have a big year,” said Riddle.

“Trevor Riddle gained the number six spot in the ladder competition. Trevor has played soccer for the past few seasons, but decided to pick tennis back up this year. He has been around the game and played it for along time and has really been working hard on his game and has looked solid so far.

“Grayson Ballance got great experience playing exhibition matches and working out with the team as an eighth grader last year. He is definitely going to be counted on to make some huge contributions in for the team this season as well.

“J.T. Francis, Wyatt Francis, and Andrew Kim are our newcomers this season. They are all learning the game and have shown tremendous improvement since conditioning started,” Riddle said.

“As has been the case the past few years and anytime you lose players from the previous season, doubles is a work in progress right now. We are going to use the scrimmages and early season to work on our combinations there and see what works.

“Last season was big for our program. Anytime you can finish a regular season undefeated that is a huge accomplishment. We have come close in the past but were always a point or two away from it. The team played big in 2018 every time we stepped on the court. They have set a goal themselves of doing even more this year. This group has worked hard in the offseason to prepare for this year. Even when we are not conditioning Palmore and I often drive by the courts and see a few of them out there. They were proud of last year, but were left hungry after that close loss to Harrisonburg in Regionals. Hopefully that hunger and drive will lead us to a successful season,” said Riddle.

Roster, by class

Grayson Ballance 9

J.T. Francis 10

Wyatt Francis 9

Ben Irby 12

Andrew Kim 8

Minjune Kim 11

Owen McAbee 12

Luke Redd 10

Trevor Riddle 10

Drew Salley 10

Manager: Maci Henderson



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