Italy — Although Italy faired well during a practice session with students from St. Joseph of Waxahachie, Thursday’s matches were all about getting better and putting in the court time. Italy’s coach, Aidan Callahan, oversaw the session and witnessed an Italy group that is quickly improving.
A few surprises graced the tennis courts under a somewhat cloudy afternoon. Italy’s, Reagan Adams, seemed to find her niche. Previously known for her water girl skills as a manager for the Gladiator basketball team, Adams covered the blue top court from corner to corner with the energy and athleticism of a seasoned veteran.
In men’s doubles, Kelton Bales and Kyle Fortenberry, have teamed up to take the tennis world by storm. The ability of Bales to patrol the net and reach the high ones combined with Fortenberry’s court speed, this freshman tandem could prove to be a vital weapon for Italy with the district competition drawing near.
Also in men’s doubles, Bailey Walton, and, Zain Byers, have formed an alliance that could leave their competitors dazed and confused. More court time and a few strategic adjustments could propel these athletic sophomores into stardom.
Byers competed in a singles match against St. Joseph, as well, eventually getting the upper racket on his opponent. Gaining confidence as a singles player, Byers will compete in both JV doubles with Walton and varsity singles at district.
Kaytlyn Bales, made a strong showing during her singles matchup. The senior is calm and precise with her approach to the game and appears mentally ready for district.
Kevin Roldan, showed his versatility in a singles match dropping in the shot of the day, a slice shot that hit and spun backwards away from the waiting returner from St. Joseph. Normally participating in doubles tennis, Roldan, may want to rethink his career choice.
Freshman, Chace McGinnis, whose last name rhymes with tennis, could be Italy’s next great tennis player if he chose to focus on that particular path. Lightning fast quicks allow, McGinnis, to virtually track any ball and with a natural feel for the game, just needs training and reps to get more up to speed.
Senior, Drenda Burk, got in some late tennis doubles and hopes for district success similar to last season when teamed with, Melissa Smithey (IHS ’11).
Brandon Souder and, Fortenberry squared off in a friendly practice match to close out the day. Souder, will be paired with, Roldan, in men’s doubles and both seem ready for district action. Fortenberry’s fastness allows his doubles’ skills to transfer easily onto the singles court.
Other Italy Tennis team members experienced scheduling conflicts and were unable to participate but the Gladiators and Lady Gladiators that did had plenty of fun learning the sport.