Co-Lin tennis earns No. 17 preseason ranking
Entering the spring after a strong fall semester outing and an outstanding 10-2 campaign last season, the Wolves earned a No. 17 national pre-season ranking. Not only do ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) voters believe the Wolves are talented, but so does the coaching staff.
First year head coach Blake Smith thinks this team can contend in the MACJC (Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges) and get an opportunity in the national tournament.
“Rankings are not the ultimate prize,” said Smith. “We want to finish top three in the state tournament and get a shot at nationals…if these guys work hard and stay focused, anything can happen.”
The MACJC has become extremely competitive with the growing recruitment of international players, and Co-Lin is no different. Joining the Wolves are freshmen Sebastian Osorio and Juan Pablo Pinilla, both from Bogta, Colombia. These talented players both advanced deep into the ITA tournament in the fall in the singles draw and look to compete for a state title.
“Having two international players is key,” said Smith. “Our local players do not have matchup with an international like they did last season; it really balances the scales.”
Returning for their second year are three Co-Lin sophomores Cory Alderman of Brookhaven, Hayes Thompson of Summit, Miss., and Cole Moak of Wesson, Miss. These players learned how difficult the MACJC is last season after finishing fourth in the state and missing the national tournament by just one spot.
“Last year was tough on these guys, especially when we thought we were a top three team,” said Smith. “I feel like that will motivate these sophomores, and I expect them to channel that into leadership on the court.”
Local players joining the Wolves for their freshman season on the courts are Tripp Case of Madison and Sebastian Harrell of Meadville.
“Having four freshman and only a seven man roster is going to be difficult for us,” said Smith. “Combine that with a lot matches on the road against sophomore led teams and this season looks challenging, but feel that we will be prepared. We are putting a lot of effort into conditioning and stamina and practicing very hard.”
With a strong work ethic and all the tools to be a great team, the Wolves are prepared to make a strong showing in 2017. The team will face many obstacles throughout the season, but the team is determined, talented, and has sophomore leadership that can step up. These ingredients are key for success and the Wolves hope to take the program to the next level this season.