The East Hamilton tennis program, coming off a successful 2019 season, is led by four seniors. The girls’ team was commanded Katelyn Vanzant, while the boys were shepperded by the trio of Aiden Seo, Conner Saxon, and Dallas Burks.
The only senior on the girls’ team, Vanzant is the captain of the defending district and region champions, and had a phenomenal junior season.
In 2019, she finished with a record of 12-2 in singles play, and 8-2 in doubles. She also made it to district semifinals in singles last year.
“Katelyn is the glue that keeps the Lady Canes together,” said head coach Tim Goode. “She’s an AP student, extremely smart. She’s also very passionate; if she feels like something is right or wrong, she goes after it. The girls team had gone on a few outings together without the coaches, and it really helped them become a team. That’s something I really believe in, and Katelyn has really grabbed onto that and become a team leader in every sense of the word.”
Vanzant is an extremely talented and passionate dancer as well, and has been accepted to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville if she decides not to pursue her tennis career elsewhere.
Seo is a three-year starter that came into his senior season excited about what the boys’ team might be able to accomplish. He went 7-5 in singles and 8-5 in doubles as a junior, and was the captain of this year’s team.
“Aiden is a great kid, and a tremendous student,” Goode said. “He works really hard in his classes and has fantastic grades, all while being a three-year starter for this team. He has also worked really hard at being a tennis player, playing in the summer and in the junior league.”
A broken collarbone sidelined Saxon for the majority of his junior year, and entered his final prep season on a mission to make up for lost time. Saxon went 5-8 in doubles play during his sophomore season, and he and Goode saw his senior year as his coming-out party.
“We’ve been expecting big things from Conner since he was injured just three matches into last season,” said Goode. “He came to all of the matches and was incredibly supportive, and has been looking forward to taking on a leadership role this season and showing how far this team could go.”
Burks moved to East Hamilton at the beginning of this school year from Alabama, and has been more than a pleasant surprise on the court for the Hurricanes. After helping to lead his previous prep team into the postseason last year, Burks proved early that he was a force in Tennessee as well, beating McMinn County’s top player in his only match of the season.
“I felt like Dallas was set up to make a run through our district and possibly be the top seed going into state,” Goode said. “I could honestly see him being a threat to win a state singles title; he has a lot of ability. He’s definitely the biggest surprise on the team because nobody had ever seen him play before. He just showed up for practice ready to go, didn’t care who he played against, and just wanted to play.”
The Chattanoogan Senior Spotlight series highlights local prep seniors whose seasons have been put on hold due to the unprecedented situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are associated with a high school spring sports team and would like your seniors featured, please encourage the coach to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, share this article and others like it from this series on social media using #ChattanooganSeniorSpotlight.