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Tennis hopes to keep winning tradition

South Boston News
Members of the HCHS boys tennis team are, from left, first row, Gordon Taylor, Drew Salley, Luke Redd and Minjune Kim. Second row, coach David Riddle, Owen McAbee, Grayson Balance, Ben Irby, Andrew Cole and Jacob Wenzel. / March 15, 2018
Halifax County High School boys tennis is looking to build on the progress this program has made in recent seasons.

The team has three seniors, Gordon Taylor, Jacob Wenzel and Andrew Cole.

Owen McAbee is the lone junior, and there are two sophomores, Ben Irby and Minjune Kim. There are two freshmen on the squad, Luke Redd and Drew Salley. Grayson Ballance is the lone eighth grader.

Coach David Riddle said recently that the Comets are trying to build upon last year’s success.

“We have six returning players from a group that had a 12-2 record last year,” said Riddle.

Halifax earned a 7-1 mark in Piedmont District play and that gave the Comets at least a share of first place for the third straight year in the regular season.

“Many on this team have been a part of a group that has gone 24-4 over the past few seasons. We are looking to continue to build on that success with this group,” said Riddle.

“In our top six, all are returning players. That group includes a top four that all had 10-plus wins on the season, a number five that was undefeated in the singles matches that he played, and a six that got significant experience as a eighth grader playing exhibition matches,” said Riddle.

“Leading that group is Jacob Wenzel. Wenzel is at the top of the ladder for the team in singles. He played most of the season at two last year before moving himself into the one spot. He was able to get in some difficult matches at the top of the ladder and will be counted on to be a key leader on this team once again,” said Riddle.

“Number two is Gordon Taylor. Like Jacob, Gordon is a three-year veteran. He got experience in at both the two and three spot last year and had an excellent season. He and Jacob will be the captains and leaders on this team,” said Riddle.

“At three is Ben Irby. Ben was a first year player last season and had basically never picked up a racket. He improved as much as anyone that I have ever seen beginning the sport. He has a calm on the court that helped him out in key situations last year when he got behind. He should easily adjust to moving up the ladder,” said Riddle.

“Owen McAbee is in the four spot once again this year. Owen had a super year last season, only losing one singles match during the regular season. That type of play will be counted on again this year.

“Coming in at five we have Minjune Kim. Kim saw limited time in the singles ladder, but won all of the matches that he competed in there. He also got valuable experience in doulbes as well and has improved his game tremendously,” Riddle said.

“At six we have Drew Salley. Drew joined us as an eighth grader and got valuable experience playing exhibition matches. Drew put a lot of work in during the off season and should easily adjust to moving into a starting role,” said Riddle.

“Rounding out the team we have three newcomers in sophomore Luke Redd, senior Andrew Cole, and joining us as an eighth grader is Grayson Ballance. All are learning the ropes of the game but have all shown tremendous potential during our workouts. All three will get experience in during the season and have an opportunity to contribute to the success of the team,” Riddle said.

“Michelle Palmore is working with us once again as a volunteer assistant. She deserves a great amount of the credit for working with the newcomers over the past few seasons and helping to build them into the players that they have become. I can’s say enough about what she has done for this program,” he said.

“We have had a tremendous five to six year stretch with Comet boys tennis,” said Riddle. The ledger includes multiple double-digit winning seasons, multiple first place finishes in the Piedmont District regular seasons, and a couple of top seeds in the Conference tournaments. “There is no doubt in my mind that this group can continue to keep that tradition of success going,” said Riddle.

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