By Mara Thompson
Grand Ledge Gazette staff writer
Grand Ledge High School girls’ tennis team soundly beat Lansing Sexton at their first match Thursday, validating their expectations of being in the top of their conference this season.
The Grand Ledge girls’ tennis team has five new players this year with three seniors. Coach Michael Richey said he is used to only replacing three or four girls so they have fallen a little bit this year.
Yet the team pulled off a victory at the start of their season, beating Lansing Sexton 4-0 Thursday afternoon. Due to the fact Lansing Sexton does not have a full varsity team, they were only able to play one, two and three singles and one doubles, all of which Grand Ledge’s scores were 6-0, 6-0 against Lansing Sexton.
Richey, who’s been the coach at Grand Ledge for seven years, said he tries to get the girls to focus on their execution during matches when they have a strong lead.
“I don’t want them to take it easy, and just sit back and wait for the point to be done,” Richey said. “They just need to be aggressive and put the ball where they want it.”
Senior and first singles player, Hailey Barrett, said she tries to focus on everything she works on during practice in matches when she has the lead.
“I try to think mainly about everything I need to practice,” Barrett said. “I honestly just try to be perfect.”
Although they were able to win this match, Richey says realistically they would like to place third in the conference this year, most likely behind Okemos and East Lansing and neck-and-neck with Holt.
“We don’t have enough experience to catch Okemos and East Lansing,” Richey said. “Holt will be interesting this year; they’re going to be more competitive. They always have a lot of girls that play, so I’m guessing they’ll be the fourth place team right behind us.”
Parents of the one doubles team, Anna Orlando and Shelly Mossbarger, said that Holt is the biggest competitor they look forward to seeing their daughters play this season.
“Our daughters beat them three times last year,” Orlando said. “But they were all in three sets, so it was very exciting.”
Mossbarger said Grand Ledge girls’ tennis has moved up in the rankings from past years.
“Grand Ledge is keeping up with East Lansing and Okemos now,” Orlando said. “We’re setting our sights on them.”
Orlando said in matches when her daughter might be down against a competitor she tries to remind her it’s just one point.
“There’s been so many matches where they have been down and came back to win it,” Orlando said. “It’s not over until it’s over so don’t get yourself down on one game.”
Barrett said it is all a mental game for her during her matches against her biggest competitors.
“The mental part of the game is the most challenging part,” Barrett said. “You just have to find ways to get past it and hopefully get the win.”