An Impressive EFFORT In Charleston For The Cougars!  

The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Sports Editor

The Lincoln boys and girls tennis teams had a strong showing this past weekend at the state tournament in the state capital. Although they did not obtain the top prize, several players had impressive outings.

The first obstacle for Cougar Head Coach Vinnie DeMarco and his team was the weather.  The rain forced play indoors to the Charleston YMCA and it didn’t move back outside for the entire three-day period.  The indoor play took Lincoln by surprise and it affected their play.  “We were indoors all weekend,” explained DeMarco.  “My kids don’t play indoors during the offseason and we only played inside during the regionals.  The nearest indoor facility is in Morgantown.  They aren’t really used to it.”

The distractions took their toll on the Cougars which led to a shaky start on the first day of the tournament. “Thursday was not such a good day.  There were several matches that we should have won that were close.  We lost one of those matches 9-7 and a couple of other matches we were up and we lost.  It was so bad because we didn’t have the confidence and we were nervous.”

DeMarco and his team didn’t stay down for long.  The second day of the tournament saw inspired play.  “Friday, we got past our nerves and we played a lot better.  We played some tough matches and we won those tough matches.  We were mentally tough on Friday for as bad as we played Thursday.”

On the girls side, No.4 Morgan Dewitt made it to the finals.  Dewitt, joined by Jade DeBerry as the No.2 doubles team, made it to Saturday.  In boys action, No.2 doubles action Corey Fazalare and Izzik Haymond made it to the final day as well.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t’ a state title for any of the Lincoln participants.

However, the girls finished fourth and the boys took sixth place.  “I thought overall we had some tough losses.  If we would have won those tight ones, we would have done more damage, but I thought for the most part we had a good showing.”

DeMarco realizes just how close his teams were to taking it all and he knows what it will take to get over the hump.  “If we put a little more effort in during the offseason, we will do better.  Our kids put in about two months a year, while most of the other teams that make it to the states put in 10-12 months.  I think our players are starting to realize it and hopefully they will start putting in more time in the offseason.”

DeMarco reflected upon this past season and he was impressed with the finished product. “The regular season was great, the Big 10 was awesome, and I have never had so many kids qualify for the states.”

Not only was this a season to remember, but next year has something special for this group of Cougars.  “I’m not graduating any boys so I think we will be dominant.  I think we will compete on the boys side at the states.  On the girls side I am graduating only a couple.”

The goal for any coach is to get the most out of their players and from that perspective, DeMarco is a very happy man.  “They gave me everything that they had.  I’m very proud overall.  We had a solid year.  It’s the best year that I have ever had.”

All of this great play has tremendously increased the level of confidence that the returning players will have when next year rolls around.  “I thought we got a lot more confident throughout the weekend and because of that confidence, I think we will be ready to go on day one next season.”

Until next week…take care and God Bless!

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