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James takes over Sikeston tennis team that is looking to lean on experience

Posted Date: 08/20/2021

James takes over Sikeston tennis team that is looking to lean on experience

Credit: Standard Democrat

With a new head coach and several fresh faces on the roster, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs tennis team is focusing on the fundamentals as they get ready for the upcoming season.

“We’re trying to establish competitive tennis matches with the girls and use the matches for our conditioning,” Sikeston first-year coach Derek James said. “I want them to understand how to compete and play hard and use every day in practice to improve their game.

“You get what you put into it. If you show up, work hard, come in with a business-like attitude and compete, then you’ll see improvement in your game.”

Sikeston has a core of upperclassmen to guide these new faces, including seniors Mackenzie Conway, Kate Grubbs, Quinn Riley and Moggy Bogle.

Juniors Zoie McDonald and Deonna Drury round out the veterans that will look to share their experience with the new and young girls on the team.

“We have a good group of seniors that have varsity experience and a couple experienced juniors,” James said. “I really love seeing the older players helping out with some of our younger players. It makes a coach’s job so much easier when you have your experienced players using their knowledge with the new girls.”

Those younger squad members looking to establish themselves include sophomore Chloe Lin along with freshmen Alanna Jones and Juliet Collins.

“We have three young players that have not played for the tennis team before,” James said. “So we are using this early practice time to go over the rules, the scoring and the basics of tennis. All three are very coachable and have really picked up on things quickly.

“With so many upperclassmen, these will be the players that will be our experienced girls next year so I’m glad they have decided to play tennis this year.”

While James added he is excited to have the nine Lady Bulldogs he has this season, he hopes to continue to build the program’s numbers in the coming years to expand to a robust junior varsity program.

“Moving forward I would like to keep building this program and be able to fill an entire JV roster along with the varsity,” James said. “Competition makes the world go around and the best way to improve is to get pushed. Even upperclassmen need to be pushed.”

“The more players you have out for the team, the more competition you will see in practice. Seeing different styles and different talents, instead of playing the same people over and over and over.”

Sikeston doesn’t have long before their first real test.

They will start their season with the Cape Central Team Tennis Tournament Friday, August 27, where they’ll likely see plenty of faces they’ll encounter again over the course of the season.

“My main goal is for our players to improve every day and be playing our best tennis come district tournament time,” James said. “We will have some ups and downs. Every team goes through adversity, but it’s how you respond to the adversity that defines us. When things go bad, you learn from it.

“You work on the weaker areas of your game and you bounce back. If we can improve our game every day that we take the court then that is all I can ask as a coach and that is all that our players can ask of themselves.”


8/27 @Cape Tournament, TBD
8/31 @Jackson, 4 p.m.
9/1 @North County, 4 p.m.
9/2 @Dexter, 4 p.m.
9/7 Cape Central, 4 p.m.
9/9 Sikeston Invitation, TBD
9/13 Potosi, 4 p.m.
9/14 Charleston, 4 p.m.
9/16 Kennett, 4p.m.
9/18 @Kennett Invitational Tournament, TBD
9/20 @Saxony Lutheran, 4 p.m.
9/22 Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.
9/24 @SEMO Conference Tournament, 4 p.m.
9/27 Fredericktown, 4 p.m.
9/29 @Cape Central, 4 p.m.
9/30 @Notre Dame, 4 p.m.
10/4 @Districts, TBD