SETH - Sherman High School's tennis team looks toward an important season. The team may not have droves of new faces, but the students that are there make up for it in their improvement.
The team, coached by Rick Saunders, boasts mainly returning players who have benefited from commitment and private lessons.
Tennis at Sherman has been steadily growing in size and skill, though the team has its success stories already.
"We've had some good kids go onto college and play...but we've had some good success for not getting involved in tennis as quick as some places," said coach Saunders.
Caleb Duncan is one such student who has continued playing the game in his post-secondary education, signing with the University of Charleston last year.
For those still at Sherman, tennis now enjoys the chance for more kids to make an impact.
A program at Sherman Junior High adds another stepping stone toward success for the team in the coming years.
Junior Cassie Keith returns for her third year on the team. Keith has proved to be an outstanding player on the court in her first two years and shows no signs of stopping. Some of the newer players include juniors Auston Chandler and Madison Lambert.
Freshman Isaac Mortemer has made a promising showing to Saunders, and looks to be a four-year player.
Coach Saunders wishes to see the team begin to compete with the more established tennis teams.
Many schools have access to more professional help, but the Sherman coach expects his students to take the initiative and get lessons in the offseason if they are able.
Tide players reached the second round of regionals in 2018. Now, the team must challenge themselves to go beyond that, possibly into the state tournament.
"It's a big jump. In our region, there's a lot of talent," said Saunders. "We just want to get our team to where we can compete and continue to build."
He wants the current crop of new middle school players to transition to a high school team that is ready to step up and play. The kids do well to hone their talents.
Saunders spoke about their willingness to drive one another to the courts on non-practice days in order to play and improve.
"They fell in love with it, and they're doing everything they can to get better," he said.
Sherman hosts Chapmanville Regional High School at 4 p.m. on March 20.