Red Bay looks to defend sectional title, qualify for state
From staff reports
Franklin County Times
RED BAY – The Red Bay boys tennis team returns all starters from last year's sectional championship team. This season the team hopes to fare better at the state tournament. Last year the Class 2A Tigers finished seventh in the state tournament in the Class 1A-3A division.
Seniors Wesley Jarnigan and Matthew Young return after making appearances in the state semifinals at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively.
Juniors Toby Gray, John Thigpen and Kirk Armstrong also return from last year's team, while unior Chris Funderburk and senior Josh Senkbeil returning players who are vastly improved and will see lots of action. Anthony Horton, a senior who also won the section in his singles position in 2006, is questionable for the 2008 season after tearing his ACL last November.
"We have six players on the boys team with sectional championship trophies from the last two years," said Red Bay coach Sonny Glasgow, who returns for his 19th season. "This bunch works hard and puts in a lot of time on their own. They know I love refereeing basketball, softball, and baseball, so they have developed a lot by getting together and playing each other after practice when I have to officiate.
"We are a long way from competing at the state tournament, but we have improved from last year. Wesley Jarnigan is the only player playing in USTA tournaments with a state ranking, so it will be tough to compete statewide."
Glasgow said his team has a good work ethic and wants to finish higher at the state meet this season.
"I know this group will work hard at getting better and put in the needed court time to win the section. They are a great bunch and we have a lot of fun in practice and matches. They know the level of play in state, and they want to go further at state this year," he said. "These guys work hard to get better and that's all you ever want as a coach. Our goal is to win section for the third straight year and to finish higher in the state tournament."
The Red Bay girls tennis team returns two players from last year – senior Paige Palmer and junior Morgan Duncan, who had a late start this spring due to the basketball playoffs. Duncan also plays wing for the Lady Tigers, who advanced to the Northwest Regional tournament last week.
The Red Bay girls are trying to become a competitive sectional team but has have a long way to go, according to Glasgow.
"The girls are becoming more knowledgeable about tennis and hopefully will be able to continue tennis the rest of their life on a recreational basis, which is one of the goals for the girls team at this time," he said. "We haven't gone to state with the girls since 2003, but we are hoping for improvement from last year. I think we won the section in 2000 and had two girls in the state semi-finals in doubles.
"However, since 2003, we haven't had the girls that wanted to put in the extra summer time to compete for a section championship. Hopefully some of the girls will become excited about tennis competition."
Glasgow said the team has received interest from several underclassmen who could improve the Lady Tigers program.
"Our girls are looking forward for the upcoming season," Glasgow said. "We have several beginner tennis players, but they are eager to learn and improve."
These include freshmen Holly Keeton, Shantell Nichols and Laken Elliott; sophmores Shelby Childers, Gretchen Fancher, Meghann Oliver and Caitlin Childers; and juniors Barbara Bostick, Deidre Shewbart, Katie Fowler and Morgan Maxwell.
The Red Bay boys will play at Russellville Thursday at 2 p.m., and both teams will play an away section match against Sheffield March 4 at 3:30 p.m.