Lady netters seek day to day improvement for 2021 season

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Boonville girls tennis team (front row, left to right) Paola Sanchez, Abby Lang, Kaylee Casey and Bridget Puryear. (second row, left to right) Madison Inskeep, Chloe Grizzle, Emily Baker, Emma Neidig, and Georgi Hendrix. (back row, left to right) Head coach Melissa Harvey, Arji Webster, Jordyn Williamson, Kate Schneringer, Alyssa Fitzgerald, Lilli Hendrix, Abbigail Pannell, Haylie Mendez, assistant coach Mallory Espey, and assistant coach John Neidig.

Boonville girls tennis coach Melissa Harvey used the word “hopeful” to describe the 2021 season for the Lady Pirates.

With 16 players suited out for the 2021 season, four of which are returning starters from last fall, Harvey said every single one of the girls have been working really hard this summer to enhance their abilities and techniques.

Of course the Lady Pirates had plenty of success last fall while finishing 11-7 overall under Harvey. “The key to the season will be the turn we have been working on,” Harvey said. “The players use this turn to position their bodies in order to achieve more accuracy when hitting the ball forehand or backhand. This turn also helps them to generate more power to put into their hits.”

As for the strengths of the team, Harvey said one of the strengths is respectfulness. She said all of the players have been very supportive of each other. “They cheer each other on and compliment each other when they see progress and improvement,” Harvey said. “Another strength would be dedication. Almost all of these ladies showed up at least once a week this summer to improve their game.”

Although the Lady Pirates return four of their top six singles players from last year, Harvey said the team’s weakness right now is serving. She said there are a lot of components that go into serving and getting them all down takes a lot of time. “The toughest part for our girls seems to be the toss of the ball,” Harvey said. “You have to get just the right height and positioning of the toss in order to set up for a good serve and it takes a lot of practice to be consistent with this.”

The goals for the Lady Pirates tennis team are also simple. Harvey said the goal for the team is to be the best, not the best, but their best. She said she wants the players to rise to each of their own potentials.

As for the motto of this year’s team, Harvey said going along with their best, the motto is “If it is to be, it is up to me!” She said these girls are in charge of reaching their best potentials with the time and work they put in. “We give them encouragement, knowledge and resources but it is up to them to use them wisely and to their advantage,” Harvey said.

Junior Emma Neidig definitely lived up to her ability in 2020. While advancing to the state tournament as a sophomore Neidig also closed out the season at 15-4 overall. Harvey said Neidig will be the No. 1 players for the Lady Pirates this season. “Emma ended the season falling to both her opponents at state, but at the same time learned so much to further advance her play as well,” Harvey said. “Emma can sometimes be a bit timid on the court but is really stepping up and taking more risks that are able to help her take control of her matches. I can’t wait to watch her continued growth throughout the season.”

Senior Abigail Pannell will also give the Lady Pirates with much needed experience at the No. 2 position. While finishing 6-5 last year at the No. 4 position, Harvey said Pannell made some extremely great growth this summer and her plays definitely shows it. “The time and effort she has put in is really paying off and I know she will be a strong No. 2,” Harvey said.

At the No. 3 position, Harvey will look to senior Arji Webster to step in and fill that spot for the Lady Pirates. While finishing 4-5 last fall at the same position, Harvey said she sees Webster turning that record around this season with her growth this summer. “One of Arji’s greatest strengths is that she is cool and collected when she plays,” Harvey said. “This really helps her to stay focused and make precise decisions about her play.”

Senior Kate Schneringer will also give the Lady Pirates depth in singles after finishing 5-5 in 2020. Harvey said Schneringer is working on improving her footwork to better set her up for winning her matches. “With this adjustment and a bit more consistency in her stroke, she will be able to do great things this year at the No. 4 position,” Harvey said.

At the No. 5 position, Harvey will look to senior Lilli Hendrix after playing mostly JV last season. Harvey said Hendrix has really come a long way from playing JV and continues to make ample growth daily. “Lilli’s efforts have been impressive and should really pay off for her this season,” Harvey said. “If she can improve her mental game as much as she has her strategic game, she will be a force to be reckoned with.”

Senior Alyssa Fitzgerald is also hoping to be a force at the No. 6 position this fall for the Lady Pirates. Harvey said Fitzgerald fought the No. 7 player, Chloe Grizzle, in a really close match to move into this position. “Last year, Chloe played doubles with Alyssa,” Harvey said. “Alyssa doesn’t always have the best form, but she gets to a lot of balls and knows how to get by to win the point.”

In doubles, Harvey said Neidig and Fitzgerald will play the No. 1 position with Pannell and Hendrix at the No. 2 spot and Webster and Schenringer at the No. 3 slot.

“Emma and Fitzgerald will be a new team but with Neidig’s experience and Fitzgerald’s net play, they will be fine,” Harvey said. “Abigail and Lilli also played together last year and with their growth this summer, I expect them to do big things this season. “As for Arji and Kate, they have fun on the court but can also double down to do what they need to do to make changes to be successful.”

Harvey said the JV girls also put in the time and effort this summer to grow, too. She said the freshmen this year have really impressed her and they look to be a promising group for the future.