courtesy photo/ Shawana Coxcourtesy photo/ Shawana Cox

Willow Springs Tennis Poised to Strike

With a 4-9 record, it might be easy for some to dismiss Willow Springs Boys Varsity Tennis team as they push forward into the second half of the season, but Coach David Cox believes they're in a perfect position, not only to compete for the SCA tournament but to make a strong run for the district title, and the tournaments that would follow those successes. 
"Last year we had the best team in school history, finishing 19-4, and advancing to the state quarterfinals," he explained in an interview on Thursday, "We graduated all but one of our varsity players from that group, so this year was naturally going to be slow."
After losing big in early season matchups to Rolla, Lebanon, Waynesville, and Forsyth, the Bears have begun to show their teeth, with a recent 7-2 win over Salem, and a hard fought, 5-4 victory against Mountain Grove. 
"Those wins were a big step forward for us and put us in good position moving forward to compete in the SCA and for our district," Coach Cox explained. 
In the dark horse win against Mountain Grove, secured by sophomore Aiden Stuart's 8-3 singles triumph, the Bears were able to build confidence for the road ahead. 
"It shows the guys what is possible when they keep fighting and stay focused," said Coach Cox, "Early in year we lost some close matches and just couldn't get over the hurdle, and now we are learning what it takes to win those types of matches."
With a busy week ahead, the Bears will be looking for continued leadership from Owen Moore, who as the only remaining member of last year's team, has been instrumental in preparing his younger, less experienced teammates for the onslaught of challenges associated with varsity competition.   
"Most of the guys are just learning to play at the speed of a varsity match," Coach Cox explained, "Balls get harder, and strategy is a big part of every decision."
Coach Cox explained that every matchup should be properly prepared for, careful not to underestimate any opponent. 
"Every match we play will be tough," he explained, "Maybe not as tough as Salem and Mountain Grove, but we don't want to overlook anything...The boys just need to continue improving their mental focus in each match, and keep working to improve their individual skills, so they can compete for the championship."
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