Polk County girls tennis coach Richard Davis is smiling a lot more these days.
Winning will do that for you.
A winless 2015 slate has already given way to a 2-0 start in 2016, the Wolverines defeating North Henderson 8-1 on Wednesday in a non-conference match at Polk.
Both Polk County wins this week have come against Knights, so Davis isn’t ready yet to declare his 12-player squad a conference title contender. But optimism is in abundance after being in very short supply a season ago.
“Some of these girls went through a tough year last year, won-loss wise,” Davis said. “Don’t get me wrong, we had some good times. But it’s never fun losing. Going through a season like that and not winning, it does strengthen you a bit and builds some character.”
Returning players such as Alicia Twitty, Haven Dufford, Bella Marino and Trinity Branham have been joined by a group of talented newcomers, including No. 1 singles player Hannah Jenne, a sophomore, and No. 2 singles player Tana Harris, a freshman. Jenne took a 10-0 victory in Wednesday’s match, with Harris also an easy 10-4 winner. The two teamed for an 8-0 triumph at No. 1 doubles.
“I think everybody is excited this year because they know we’ve finally got two players to fill those spots,” Davis said of No. 1 and No. 2 singles. “The Lord blessed us with two good players in Hannah Jenne and Tana Harris.
“Having those two newcomers hold those two spots is so important for us because it lets all the others play where they need to be. Last year we had to play everyone up a spot or two above where they should have played. This year we’re fortunate to have a strong one and two and and now everybody feels better because they’re playing where they should be.”
Freshman Ava Marino has won her first two matches at No. 6 singles while Alana Seay and Willow Arkell made their first doubles appearance a success on Wednesday, posting an 8-3 win.
“It’s still a long season. We’ve beaten the same team twice,” Davis said. “I’ve been really impressed with our work ethic. We started practice on August 1, and we practiced in the heat of the day for two solid hours. Everybody came out and everybody worked hard and spirits were high and it was a good feeling.”
The Wolverines will get a good test of how far they’ve progressed on Thursday, traveling to face perennial power T.C. Roberson in Skyland.
Polk County 8, North Henderson 1
1. Hannah Jenne (PC) d. Brittany Brewer 10-0; 2. Tana Harris (PC) d. Breanna Slagle 10-4; 3. Haven Dufford (PC) d. Skyla Justice 10-3; 4. Alicia Twitty (PC) d. Sophie Cruz 10-5; 5. Bella Marino (PC) d. Adela Gutierrez 10-2; 6. Ava Marino (PC) d. Natali Merchant 10-0.
1. Jenne-Harris (PC) d. Brewer-Slagle 8-0; 2. Justice-Cruz (NH) d. B. Marino-Trinity Branham 8-5; 3. Willow Arkell-Alana Seay (PC) d. Gutierrez-Merchant 8-3.