SIKESTON -- The Sikeston tennis team will be sending three players to the Class 1 state tennis tournament at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield Thursday through Saturday.
Sikeston singles player Chris Matthews will be competing as well as the Class 1, District 1 doubles champion tandem of Clayton Matthews and Sam Zhao.
Sikeston tennis coach feels his players could have a solid showing at the always-brutal state tournament.
"There's some stiff competition up at state," said James. "Any time you got you get the best from around the state. I've had players in the past that I thought had a really good chance of doing some things that drew some unfortunate draws in the first round and had a tough road to get through. And the last couple of years we've been fortunate enough to do real well. Two years ago our doubles team of Peter Jones and Chris Robey placed fourth and last year Marc Leible tied for seventh in singles."
Matthews had a singles record of 13-10 this season while Zhao and Matthews were 15-1 in doubles this season.
None of the three have ever qualified for the state tennis tournament before, but James doesn't expect the players to have any nerves.
"The state tennis tournament is different from state basketball or state football, you're not dealing with huge crowds," said James. "You just go out there and play tennis. It's like a dual meet during the regular season. I don't consider it a high pressure-packed situation. The competition is a little better. It's a very neat experience, but in the six years I've taken kids to state, I've not seen a lot of nerves on our part."
James says that the three players won't be in awe of the competition at state after seeing some top competition in the area and playing traditional power MICDS last week in the playoffs.
"Chris played No. 1 all year for me in singles and that's a tough spot to play because most teams have one or two kids that can play," said James. "It's tough night in and night out so he won't be phased by anybody he sees.
"With Clayton and Sam, I've had them playing No. 1 doubles for most of the year so they see the best teams in doubles. We've had some pretty tough competition with Carbondale, Charleston and Cape Central. They've seen some pretty good doubles teams along the way. It's hard to simulate state competition, but at the same time you just play who you play. To their credit, they've improved throughout the year and have had an excellent year so far. They're eager to get in there and do the best they can."