Festus Tennis Looks to Strike it Big

The Festus Tigers Varsity Tennis squad will return six key players this year, in what could be an impressive season. They’re looking to make a dent in the standings after a cancelled season.

With the Spring sports season just around the corner, the Festus Tigers Girls Varsity Tennis team is preparing to make an impact. The Tigers will return their top six Varsity players from last season, which should put them in strong contention for big victories. Head Coach Angela Tinnin predicts great things. She said, “With our more experienced returning players, I am expecting many wins throughout the regular season, and into the post-season tournaments.”

The strength of the Festus Tigers will be their ability to put in hard work, keeping a positive attitude and teamwork. Tinnin noted, “Our returning kids support the newer kids, giving them tips about how they’re hitting the ball and where to hit the ball. They support each other by helping them strive to improve. It comes down to time and experience on the court. Everyone is a work in progress. We are all working to get better!”

Tinnin ran down the highlights of each returning member, starting with the only Senior on the court. She said, “Our number one, Ryan Esparza, is a strong, experienced player, who has played Varsity since his Freshman year. He and his brother were Conference Doubles champs in 2019.” She went on, “Esparza has a powerful serve, and strong groundstrokes, as well as using great strategy when outwitting his opponents. He is proving to be a good team captain and leader, helping the new kids improve their groundstrokes, and giving them pointers that only come with experience on the court. I am expecting great things from him this year!”

The two Juniors are next at two and three. Tinnin explained, “At number two, Daxton Burgett brings athleticism, and has nice, strong groundstrokes. Paige Wilkinson is our number three, who has spent many hours on the court in the off-season. She packs a mean backhand!”

Supporting the top three is Kenzie Welsh. Tinnin added, “Welsh, our number four, plays volleyball in her off-season, which helps her have strong serves, overheads and fearless volleys at the net.”

Relatively new to tennis, having only begun last season, Tinnin is excited about her number five player. She said, “Dustin Peters has worked tirelessly during Covid, improving, and moving his way up the ladder. He brings a great work ethic, and positive attitude to our team!”

Mackenzie McJunkins is at number six. Tinnin commented, “Her game is improving daily, with her forehand and backhand proving to be true strengths. She was an All-Conference softball player for Festus this past fall.”

Beyond the top six, Festus has plenty of young talent, ready to step in and play. Tinnin said, “Our line-up continues to be full of players who have spent extra time on the courts during the off-season, some even seeking private lessons. This gives us a strong roster, down through our JV players.”

Tinnin commented on a few of the top JV players, and said, “Connor Zustiak and Jacob Steward are both soccer players, who are very dedicated and hard-working. They have spent many hours on the courts during the off-season.” She added, “We have 15 new-comers to tennis joining us this season. One of which is Basketball stand-out, Josie Allen, who, with her great athleticism, is quickly working her way up through the ranks.”

Tinnin commented on the rest of her squad, “All of the remaining players have much to offer and bring to our team! They are all learning, improving and showing promise. I am so excited to have such a great group of kids interested in tennis!”

Previewing the schedule, Tinnin is excited. She said, “We play most of the same schools we have in the past. Although, this year it is very different, having not played the season last year with the Covid shutdown. We really don’t know what to expect from most of those opponents.” She continued, “We are in for some surprises for sure! However, we are looking forward to the challenge!”

According to Tinnin, the practices have been going well. “Our practices have been full, and meaningful. We are working on building multiple skills during our many drills, all of which are improving our footwork, quickness, agility, strength and hand-eye coordination. Not to mention, our tennis strokes, coupled with talking strategy along the way,” she said.

The Spring athletics season is a fun time of year, especially as the weather warms up. It’s a great time to be a tennis player. Tinnin summed it up, “We are building our program, and I can’t wait to see what this season brings!”

Festus Tennis Looks to Strike it Big

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