Sharon Morford wants to build up the Ottawa tennis program. And while that is happening, those out for tennis should have fun, she said.
The Ottawa High School girls tennis team has 10 athletes out for this fall season, including two four-year seniors in Bailee Bones and Tayler Alterman.
“We have a really broad mix,” Morford, OHS tennis head coach, said. “We have some veterans that have played all four years, and some people who have just started. I think some of the goals, and it was the same for boys tennis — have fun. I want them to enjoy tennis, and love what they do.”
The Lady Cyclone roster fills outs with juniors Emma Gibbs, Hayley Ubelaker, Amber Fields, Madelyn Starrett; sophomores Sage Pratt and Callie Mongold; and freshmen Samantha Castro and Madison Curry.
This marks Morford’s first season as the head coach for girls tennis after coaching the boys ‘tennis team this past spring. The boys team had a state qualifier in Matthew Schulz, and Morford said she hopes that success transitions to the girls’ side.
“What I really like about [coaching both teams] is building some continuity in the tennis program throughout Ottawa,” Morford said. “I want to build up the program and have some success.”
But while much of the first two weeks of practices have been focused on establishing a baseline for personal and team goals, the real key is making sure everyone is getting as much as they can out of the sport, Morford said.
“My goals, always, are to have fun because tennis is a lifelong sport,” she said. “It is something they can take with them later on in life. If they get some good fundamentals now, and enjoy it, they can play it when they are adults.”
The Lady Cyclones open their season 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Emporia Invitational featuring Andover Central, Arkansas City, Emporia, Highland Park, Shawnee Heights, Topeka West and Valley Center.