The Fort Payne girls’ tennis team lost a tough match Feb. 18 to the Boaz Lady Pirates, but head coach Dan Berry said he saw something in that performance he knew he could build on.
He could see their competitiveness and, and after 11 days of preparation, the Lady Wildcats earned their first win of the season with a 9-0 shutout of the Plainview Lady Bears on Monday.
“We all played really well, but (a shutout) is not that common normally,” Berry said. “They were ready, and they knew from the Boaz match experience that they could play with Plainview and they showed me they could.”
The boys’ team didn’t do too shabby either.
The ‘Cats took a 6-3 victory over the Bears in their matches. It was no shutout, of course, but a win is a win.
The ‘Cats were an ankle injury away from what could’ve been a 7-2 victory.
“Our No. 2 (boys singles) player sprained his ankle,” Berry said. “Noah Benefield was up 4-0, and he was just going for the ball and slipped and twisted his ankle.
“I assessed him, and I felt like there wasn’t a broken ankle or knee, but I knew it was a pretty good sprain.”
Berry said Benefield would be sidelined for the next two or three weeks because of a “slight tear on the outer ankle muscle.”
The boys claimed victories in four of the other singles matches. Jamie Edwards won 8-6, Will Scott won 8-4, Austin Weldon 8-0 and Tyler Berry took home the 8-1 victory.
Fort Payne took 2-of-3 in boys’ doubles matches. Weldon and Scott won 8-2 and Tyler Berry and Byrum Emory won their doubles match 8-3.
In the girls’ singles matches, the Lady ‘Cats were a perfect 6-of-6. Abby Fraebel won her match 8-2, and Anna Parai won handily 8-1.
Madden Ragen, Kaitlyn Beach and Bethany Bares each won 8-0.
Berry said in the first to eight match, a player must win by two.
It was a back-and-forth for the Wildcats’ Allison Martin.
Martin was trailing in the No. 6 matchup, so Berry took the sophomore aside to make some corrections and minor adjustments.
The 10th grader took heed of the USA tennis certified instructor’s advice.
“I talked to her and she calmed down and came back to win the match,” Berry said.
Martin took the come-from-behind 9-7 victory.
In girls’ doubles matches, the Lady ‘Cats swept 3-of-3. Fraebel and Ragan won 8-4, Bares and Parai won 8-1 and Martin and Beach won 8-0.
The ‘Cats are scheduled to take on the Sardis Lions at 3:30 p.m. today.
Berry said he was pleased with all of the crowd’s support.
“That was the biggest turnout I’ve seen,” Berry said. “I really appreciate the support from family, friends and grandparents and everybody who came out.”
He was also pleased with his team’s dedication this past week.
“I felt really good going into the matches (Monday),” Berry said. “We had just had some great practices, and we did a lot of different things just preparing them. They know not to take any team for granted — just get out there and play hard from the start.”