More than meets the eyePublished 10:58pm Friday, April 26, 2013
KFHS girls’ tennis team develops
Like the King’s Fork High School girls’ tennis team’s 9-0 loss to Indian River High School on Thursday, the Lady Bulldogs’ 1-7 record this season does not tell their real story.
Calvin Mitchell, in his third year as head coach of the team, summed up the journey of the 2013 season.
“I had four returning players with experience, and everybody else was basically beginners,” he said. “So, judging from where they started to where we are now, they are totally different players. They just lack the experience in competition.”
He described the girls’ challenge as “learning the sport in two, three months and then competing with girls who have been playing for several years.”
They have been aided by Mitchell, but also by the more experienced players, specifically team captains and seniors Hazel Fiel and Victoria Owens.
After sharing the role of No. 1 last year, Fiel has assumed the position by herself this season.
“This season has gone by way too fast,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every single match. The people on the tennis team are just amazing.”
She feels she has improved along with everyone else.
“We go out there every day, practice our hardest, and if you practice all the time like we do, you can only get better,” she said.
Owens drew praise from Mitchell for her closing ability, which has led to some wins this year.
“She seems to know how to finish off her opponent,” Mitchell said. “In terms of the (beginners), Destanie Fonoimoana is also learning that winning trait. She won her first district match in singles against Nansemond River.”
Fonoimoana, a junior, shared her perspective on the year.
“It’s been a big learning experience, from the beginning of the season, from not knowing what was going on in the game at all to really showing more confidence in my tennis game, so this has been really fun,” she said.
She said her breakthrough win came through finding the open space on the court when hitting and being patient, waiting for the point.
Strategic ball placement when hitting was a focus against Indian River on Thursday.
Despite their progress in this regard, Mitchell said, “They just weren’t able to get that last point and close out the rallies.”
“Their match scores (9-0) or 8-1 don’t reflect what they’re capable of,” he said. “They just haven’t been able to quite put it together yet.”
Fiel lost her singles match, 1-6, 6-1, 10-4.
The Lady Bulldogs were also playing without their normal No. 2, senior Zhangsiwen Xiao, who was sidelined after undergoing dental surgery.
King’s Fork (1-7, 1-6) hosts Hickory High School on Monday and Lakeland High School on Tuesday to close the season, and Fiel listed her personal goals for these matches: “Play the way I want to play, improve every time. Don’t leave the court saying you should have done something different.”
Singles results on Thursday were as follows:
- Balesi (IR) d. Hazel Fiel (KF), 1-6, 6-1, 10-4
- Strickland (IR) d. Aizat Karapova (KF), 6-2, 6-1
- J. Cannon (IR) d. Eboni Thomas (KF), 6-2, 6-2
- Azadbakht (IR) d. Victoria Owens (KF), 6-0, 6-1
- Luu (IR) d. Rebecca Bangley (KF), 6-4, 6-0
- R. Cannon (IR) d. Kristie Preneta (KF), 6-1, 6-4
Doubles results were as follows:
- Balesi-Azadbakht (IR) d. Fiel-Thomas (KF), 8-4
- R. Cannon-Luu (IR) d. Bangley-Destanie Fonoimoana (KF), 8-0
- J. Cannon-Strickland (IR) d. Owens-Arielle Reyes (KF), 8-3