At the Neosho Pride Night on Saturday, girls tennis head coach Nick Hays said that his numbers were up for the 2018 season and then he put out a call to any freshmen girls who might want to play tennis, since there's no freshmen on this season's team.
The Lady Wildcats, just a couple seasons removed from a district runner-up finish, finished 3-13 overall and 0-7 in the Central Ozark Conference Large last season. Neosho failed to advance in districts.
"We want to improve the overall season record obviously and make more of an impact in the COC," Hays said. "As was the case last year, we are still on the young side, only one senior and the rest are sophomores and juniors, and I hope we can use that as enthusiasm towards learning and improving this season. They, as usual, are great soprts and Neosho should be proud of the way these student-athletes conduct themselves at duals and tournaments."
Key returners include Emily Mitchell, Sarah Werner, Morgan Brattin, and Julie Phillips.
"We had a few show up for open courts and they were high energy and the girls are looking forward to the season," Hays said. "Emily Mitchell and Morgan Brattin have been getting lessons in Joplin in the offseason and that should definitely show on the courts this season."
With the experience of hard knocks last season, the Lady Wildcats look to improve this season, of course, although it will never be easy in the brutal COC (now just one division after the dissolution of the COC Small).
"The core of last year's team returned," Hays said, "so that is good to have those positive players back out to help lead the new players that we have out this year. We will see at the end how they compare.
"The girls need to not get down on themselves if matches don't go their way and understand that it's a long-term process and to learn from mistakes so that they improve and see more success down the road.
"Well, there is nothing easy in the COC and the district. Knew that when we entered this conference. We were pretty much at the bottom of the conference last year, so there is only one direction to go."
The Lady Wildcats open their season August 27 on the road against Aurora and do not play their home opener until a week later against Carl Junction. By that point, the Lady Wildcats should have already played three duals.
Aug. 27 — at Aurora
Aug. 28 — at Republic
Aug. 30 — at Willard
Sept. 4 — vs. Carl Junction
Sept. 5 — vs. Monett
Sept. 6 — vs. Ozark
Sept. 10 — at Mount Vernon
Sept. 11 — at Carthage
Sept. 13 — at Branson
Sept. 14 — Republic Tournament
Sept. 17 — vs. Nixa
Sept. 18 — at Webb City
Sept. 20 — vs. College Heights
Sept. 24 — vs. Lamar
Sept. 25 — vs. Joplin
Sept. 27 — COC Tournament
Sept. 28 — TJ Tournament
Oct. 1-6 — Districts