With a young team on his hands, Jordan tennis coach Matt Bell wasn’t sure how the girls would respond to the 2014 season. But the Beetdiggers answered with a late-season charge that enabled all three singles players and both doubles teams to make it to the state 5A tourney.
The state tournament was held Oct. 8 and 11 at Liberty Park.
Bell used an eight-girl rotation throughout much of the season, putting senior Kate LeSueur into early No. 2 doubles play. LeSueur was one of only two seniors on this year’s team.
“I had eight good players but only seven slots on varsity,” Bell said. “We mixed it up on the second doubles, but the other girls maintained their positions, which helped them stay ready for each match.”
The other senior, Kjersten Jones, cemented the final spot in the No. 2 doubles team that made the state playoffs. Jones played alongside cousin Sol Jones, a junior. The duo finished third in the Region 3 tournament, but lost out in the opening rounds of state play.
Kjersten’s younger sister, Tabby Jones, also played on the varsity team. Tabby joined sophomore Hannah Dutson for a second-place showing at regions, but also lost out in the first round at state.
“It was fun having the three girls related to each other on the team,” Bell said. “They were always competitive with each other, but especially the sisters, who pushed each other to get better.”
Jordan relied on junior Jenni Milne to hold down the tough No. 1 singles slot, the bracket where the best 5A players in the state reside. Milne used her previous varsity experience to finish third in regions and make a first-round appearance at state.
“She was on our No. 1 doubles team last year and qualified for state in 2013 as well,” Bell said. “She moved to singles this year and filled the No. 1 role nicely.”
Sophomore Jill Holley came in for the No. 2 singles slot. She finished fourth at regions and lost in the first round at state.
“It was her first year on varsity,” Bell said. “She became a much different player from the beginning of the season to the end. You could see the change in her progress.”
Freshman Makenna Terry filled in the No. 3 singles slot with a fourth-place region finish and a first-round appearance at state.
“It was her first year on a tennis team,” Bell said. “She figured it out midway through the season and began beating quality opponents.”
Bell said his team isn’t comprised of players that put all their effort into just playing tennis year round. The girls participate in other sports during the fall and spring seasons.
“(Tabby) Jones is the star of our girls’ basketball team,” Bell said. “And Dutson is the long distance running star at our school. We aren’t a pure tennis team like other schools. All but one of my girls play another sport. So they don’t get to practice tennis year round. But it’s good to see them excel in their sports, then come out here and also excel at tennis.”