Monday, May 21, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
The message is clear and concise. To be able to execute is a different matter entirely.
"Once you reach the state tournament you need to have a sense of urgency about winning instead of just ‘glad to be here,’” said former singles state champion Debbie Herring who won her title as a ninth grader at Notre Dame in 1985.
“Teams and individuals need to understand that you might not ever qualify again so play as if this is your final match and nothing can stop you.”
Nothing and no one stopped Herring in 1985 as she breezed past the first four opponents winning 48 of 53 games, before defeating senior and defending state champ Sholar Clark (GPS), 6-1, 7-5, in the finals.
In the era (1962-1987) when each singles and doubles win was worth team points, Team Herring (i.e. Notre Dame) was state runner-up (8 points) to champion GPS (11 points).
Tuesday at BlueCross Spring Fling XIX at Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro, senior Callie Voges and the rest of the Notre Dame girls’ tennis team (12-0) hope for a big dose of sense of urgency in its state semifinal match with Page High School at 10 a.m. EDT. Union City faces Christian Academy of Knoxville in the other semifinals match.
The finals are Wednesday at 10 a.m. EDT.
“We have worked hard this season to reach the state and are excited to be here and are focusing just on our match with Page and not looking ahead to the finals on Wednesday,” said Voges.
For Voges, this is her last shot at a state title as she graduated Sunday and heads to the University of Tennessee in the fall. She and teammate Katie Joyce won the Region 4 doubles title in 2010 and won their state quarterfinals match before losing in the semifinals.
“I have been on the varsity for four years and we have worked harder this year to reach our goals than in past seasons,” stated Voges who is also a national scholar athlete in swimming with a 3.9 grade point average and a multi-event state qualifier.
Notre Dame History: The Irish have a pair of boy’s state championship trophies (1963, ’64), the aforementioned girls’ runner-up trophy from 1985 and a boys’ state second placed trophy in 2010.
Similar to Team Herring, Team Chris Brown carried the Irish banner winning three straight singles state championships (1962-64) and a pair of co-state team championships with Oak Ridge (1963) and Memphis Central (1964). In three years of region and state tournament competition, Brown won 23 straight matches without losing a set from 1962-64.
His closest match was his last high school match in 1964 as he beat Bob Dow of Bradley Central High School, 7-5, 7-5 in the state finals. Brown defeated Dow four times in two years, including the state finals in 1963 and 1964.
Brown also competed in the East Tennessee regional as a freshman in 1961, losing to City High School senior George Dickinson in the finals. There was not a state tournament held in 1961 and Brown never lost another high school match. Dickson played at Georgia Tech and the University of Chattanooga, winning the 1966 NCAA small college national singles championship held at the University of the South.
Jennifer Taylor and Jennifer Brouner won state doubles in 2008 for Notre Dame, while John Dorris won a state singles championship in 2010.
10-and-Under Tennis: Herring stays involved in youth tennis in Jacksonville, Fla. with the United States Tennis Association’s “10-and-under Program”.
Tennis across the country has followed the blue print created by other youth sports and allows young players to learn the game on a smaller court with a smaller racquet and smaller ball than adults.
Youth sports including baseball and soccer have used scaled-down versions of the high school and pro-sized fields for decades with great success.
“If a 10-year-old has the skills and wants to play in tournaments played on regulation-size courts that’s great,” stated Herring who was a Southern doubles champion, ranked as high as No.3 in the nation in 14s with Shannon McCarty (who played at Georgia) and played four years at William and Mary, advancing to the national tournament four straight years as a team.
“But there are many kids across the nation who are just learning the game and the USTA and it’s instructors need to do everything possible to provide a positive experience for them and keep them in the sport.”
Herring is on the board of Jacks Youth Tennis in Jacksonville, which uses courts in the city parks system for the clinics ($88 for seven weeks; two lessons per week), instead of private clubs.
To keep the costs down, USTA provides racquets in the various age groups and the players turn them in when they move up to the next age division.
“We offer a smaller court and racquet for 8-years-olds than 10-year-old and a smaller court for 6-year-olds than the 8-year-olds,” said Herring who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Florida.
“We also have followed the lead of other youth sports and want and need the parents of these kids to get involved and help with instruction in the clinics.”
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com