By: Tyler Lee and Kirk McCarty
This year has been a rebuilding year for the tennis team after losing most of the team to graduation last year. All of the underclassmen got plenty of playing time this year, so the future is bright for the program. The Warriors won four matches this year, which included two against Hattiesburg High School and Meridian High School. The Warriors’ wins against Hattiesburg came on March 26 at Tatum Park, the home site for the Warriors. An additional win against Hattiesburg came on April 2 at Kamper Park. The other wins came against Meridian in an away match on March 28 and a home match on April 4.
The 2013 Warrior tennis team will be heading to State next week. The Warriors are sending doubles partners John Lewis Neese and MacAlister Parker and singles player Eric Swisher. The Warriors are looking to capture their first doubles title since Ben and Brock Hurston’s win a few years ago.
Swisher has signed with Jones County Junior College to continue his tennis career through college. Head coach Zane Thomas said, “Eric is a life-long tennis guy. He is dedicated to the game and will be successful at the next level.”
Lewis and Parker were ranked number one in the state prior to being defeated by Gulfport’s doubles team by a score 6-2, 7-6. The team dropped to the tenth seed for the 16-team state tournament. Neese is extremely confident in his chances of a state title. “Go ahead and make room in the trophy case because we’re bringing it for the boys back home,” Neese said.
The first year under Coach Zane Thomas was a success in the eyes of the players. MacAlister Parker said, “Coach Thomas brought enough raw emotion for the whole team.” Thomas won’t be returning as coach for the 2014 season due to accepting a football coaching position at Madison Central. “The athletic programs at Oak Grove are second to none, and the tennis program is no exception.” Coach Thomas said. “I really enjoyed seeing these kids compete this season. It was really different than coaching a contact sport like I’m used to with football. I’m going to miss this group.”