(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Entering his second year at the helm of the men's tennis program, Sikeston Bulldog's coach Russ Dial is hoping to build on the experience earned last season by a fairly raw group of players.
"Last season was like a new beginning for a lot of these guys who have never participated in organized tennis before," coach said. "They were learning basic fundamental techniques."
While the team had a few veteran leaders like current seniors Stuart Strom and Landon Hampton, most on the team spent the year learning the game.
"I would say seven out of those ten guys last year did not not know the game of tennis," Dial said. "They did not know the rules or the regulations.
"I think biggest thing that came was last year was the experience they gained."
And though this year will will have it's share of new faces, Dial thinks the increased numbers will lead to increased competition.
"We've got a great turnout this year, we've got 17 guys compared to 10 at the end of last season," he said. "That gives me a greater talent pool to work from.
"It creates more competition among the players and shows our program is moving forward"
If Strom performs anything like last year, he is expected to be Sikeston's go-to netter once again.
As Sikeston's No. 1, Strom finished the season strong, advancing to the Class 3 District 1 Tennis Championship singles finals, falling to Farmington's Eric Fuemmeler in the match.
Dial said while he realizes his team has a lot of growing to do he has high expectations of his team.
"My goal this year are to move on out of districts, possibly finishing second," he said. "That's a high goal there I've set for myself.
"I just want them to be as successful as can be and have fun while we're doing it."
The Bulldogs will open up their season next week when they travel to Marion, Ill. on March 23, with their home opener coming up April 1, both events at 4 p.m.
|Mar. 23||at Marion, Ill., 4 p.m.|
|Mar. 29||at Kennett, 4 p.m.|
|April 1||Dexter, 4 p.m.|
|April 3||at Farmington Tourney|
|April 6||Kennett, 4 p.m.|
|April 8||at Farmington, 4 p.m.|
|April 15||at Charleston, 4 p.m.|
|April 19||at Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.|
|April 20||Cape Central, 4 p.m.|
|April 22||Marion, Ill., 4 p.m.|
|April 24||at Poplar Bluff Tourney|
|April 26||at Carbondale, 4 p.m.|
|April 27||at Cape Central, 4 p.m.|
|April 28||at Dexter, 4 p.m.|
|May 3||Charleston, 4 p.m.|
|May 4||Dexter, 4 p.m.|
|May 10||Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.|
|May 13||Districts at Sikeston|