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Comets work on weaknesses in scrimmage

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Girls tennis opens with new faces, competition for spots

SoVaNow.com / March 18, 2009
The 2009 edition of the Halifax High School Girls Tennis Team starts off the season with many new faces and a great deal of competition for playing positions. After two very successful years where the team was able to advance both singles and doubles players to the Northwest Regional Championships, the Comets are facing a rebuilding year with the loss of their top five players from last year.

Coach Greg Donner is faced with building a new lineup from a few returning players and a large contingent of newcomers. The top returning player is Jessica Palmer who had a very successful first year playing at number six singles most of the season. Donner notes that, “She is playing very well at practice and looked strong in our first scrimmage against Randolph Henry. It is a big jump from number six to number one and I expect that she will grow quickly into the position.” Donner’s greatest challenge at this time is trying to find a suitable partner for the top doubles team.

There are only two other Comets who had regular playing time in 2008. Carlene Link and Blair Jeffress played much of last year at number three doubles and are currently playing at number two and three singles. Donner is pleased to have these players returning but as with all positions recognizes, “We are looking at beginning the year with a lot less experience than most of our opponents. We will be playing catch up most of the season.”

The coach’s hope is that by the end of the year the top players can get enough experience to challenge other district teams at tournament time.

Several players have been impressive in the early going of practice. Kimmie Farmer and Megan Owen are returning from a year where they saw minimal playing time but are much improved beginning a new season. They are currently both playing in the top six positions in the order and Donner feels that they may be the most improved of the group.

Several of last year’s players and newcomers are currently challenging for starting spots. Brandi Winstead is one of the top newcomers to the Comets team and is currently playing at number five in the lineup. She is new to the team but has playing experience with local players. Kristal Tate is a returning member of the team who has shown much improvement in practice but has been sidelined with a sprained ankle. Hopefully, she will be back in action soon and challenging for playing time.

The team has been hampered by the lack of practice time but as Donner says,

“That is normal for this time of year. We lost a lot of time just trying to cut the team because of a large turnout of young players and than we had a week of snow.” The challenges now are to turn this group of young players to a competitive team. With only one senior, Jessica Elliott, on the team the future is bright for the group. As the coach says, “Everyone has rebuilding years; this one has started off well. We just need the time to develop the players we have. There is a lot of talent here; we just need to work to get stronger.”

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