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Experience players return to UCHS tennis squads

The 2018 Blue Devil tennis team includes, pictured from left, back row, Daniel Campbell, Benjamin Hensley, Noah Starnes, Trey Hatcher and Matthew Sutphin; front row, Aaron Manzanares, Chase Erwin, Trenton White and Daniel Shults. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School tennis teams will have players familiar with competition taking to the courts this season, according their head coach.

“Our team is now experienced and we have many seniors on the team,” Karla Keesecker told The Erwin Record. “I think this will be our biggest strength during the season. Our players know what to expect and are prepared for it.”

The players have spent the preseason working to improve, according to Keesecker.

“The team has been preparing for the season by working with the tennis pros at Johnson City Country Club,” she said. “They have been attending clinics since October. The pros at JCCC have been a huge help to our team. They have been very supportive and this type of preparation will go a long way during our regular season.”

In 2017, the Blue Devils had only two players who had played high school tennis before.

“All our boys will make an impact this season,” Keesecker said. “Last year, four of the six had never played a high school match before. This year, they come in with some experience and confidence.

“I expect all the senior boys – Chase Erwin, Trey Hatcher, Noah Starnes and Daniel Campbell – to take a leading role in the team and fully expect them to compete well this season.”

Rounding out the Blue Devil squad in 2018 are: Ben Hensley, Aaron Manzanares, Daniel Shults, Matthew Sutphin and Trenton White.

Keesecker said she anticipates that three seniors – Carson Moore, Winter Day-Honeycutt and Abby Hensley – will lead the Lady Devil squad this season.

“I expect them to be the role models for the girls team this season, especially since we have so many new players,” Keesecker said.

Sophomore Brandolyn Thomas and junior Taylor Thomas are expected to contribute this season as well.

Rounding out the Lady Devil squad are: Katherine Altemose, Meagan Buskey, Ashleigh Edwards, Whitlee Franklin, Natalia Hernandez, Katlyn Higgins, Kate Hollenbeck, Lydia McNabb, Holly Sawyer and Isabella Thomas.

Jonathan Kenney will serve as an assistant coach for the program this season.

The Blue Devils and Lady Devils will face conference competition from Dobyns-Bennett, Elizabethton, Science Hill, Sullivan Central, Sullivan East, Sullivan South, Tennessee High and Volunteer.

“Our expectations this season are to compete well and improve every week,” Keesecker said. “Each player on the team has made a list of three goals they would like to achieve by the end of the season. So, we will be working on those goals as the season progresses.”

The UCHS netters are scheduled to play at Sullivan East on Tuesday, March 27, at Dobyns-Bennett on Thursday, March 29, and at Sullivan Central on Tuesday, April 3. All matches are set to begin at 3:30 p.m.