Enthusiasm plus energy often equals excellence.
That is where the Lady Granger tennis program hopes to go this season. LaGrange High does not want to play for runner-up honors. The Lady Grangers want to call themselves the best in Region 5-AAAA this year.
The thought has crossed their minds and their tennis rackets during the past two weeks of preseason workouts.
“This is going to be our season. We are going far. We have five returning varsity girls, and we have some real good players. I’m a lot faster, and I hope to play singles,” said Lady Granger sophomore Kaylee Key, who was inserted at No. 1 doubles last spring.
Another sophomore with varsity playing time for LaGrange High is Kelsey Anne Cadenhead. The 5foot-2 Cadenhead has returned with more zip on her shots and a better all around game. She cares.
But Cadenhead is not the only one to come back a better player for the Lady Grangers. They were the third place team in the region last year. The Lady Grangers could be much better than that this time around.
“We want to win. We all practiced through the summer. We’re getting a lot better,” Cadenhead said after Thursday afternoon’s LaGrange High practice at the McCluskey Tennis Center.
Cadenhead doesn’t care where she plays this year as long as it’s in the starting lineup. She does not have a preference between singles or doubles. Cadenhead is a 7-day a week tennis player.
She craves the game.
“I’m working down the line. I’m working on my forehand and backhand. I have stronger strokes and more topspin (this year),” said Cadenhead.
Sophomores Lizzie Wilkerson and Lauren Yarbrough have returned as well for the Lady Grangers, along with junior Abbi Lynn Lanier. LaGrange High has some viable candidates for the No. 1 singles slot with Lanier, Wilkerson, Cadenhead and Key. Junior Elise Lee could also be an answer at doubles for the Lady Grangers. La-Grange High has some hot shot artists throughout its tennis program.
“We’re still young, but I’m excited about where we’re going. The girls are working hard. They’re improving their strokes. They are setting up their points, and we’d love to upset the region,” said Lady Grangers head coach Kenny Moore.
Freshman Jina Shin has an improving tennis game for LaGrange High, too.
“Jina has shown some promise, and she has confidence,” said Moore.
Shin has that varsity look already, even as a ninthgrader. She is destined to play some meaningful matches for the Lady Grangers this season.
“She has improved so much, and she has a knack for the game. Jina knows how to hit the ball in the right spots. She is a baseline player,” said LaGrange High assistant coach David Traylor.
He thinks this is going to be a good season for the Lady Grangers.
“We’re excited about the future. We have a year more of experience. We’re putting more pace on the ball. We have a good tennis nucleus,” said Traylor.
The Lady Grangers expect to win in Region 5-AAAA this season. LaGrange High will get the season started on Monday, Feb. 13 against Columbus Northside at the McCluskey Tennis Center. The matches will begin at 4 p.m.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer