The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Sports Editor

This past weekend the Lincoln tennis team started its move toward the state tournament.

The site was the West View Tennis Center in Morgantown and seven players (four girls and three boys) earned the right to participate in singles action (doubles information wasn’t available at the time of this article) at the state tournament. The event starts today at the Kanawha City Tennis Center.

Cougar Head Coach Vinnie DeMarco has a solid group of players that will be participating in this year’s event.  On the girls side, senior Hanna Stoper, juniors Jade DeBerry and Morgan DeWitt, and sophomore Leona Niebuhr will head south this weekend.  The boys squad will send a trio of juniors (Justin Martin, Troy Shingleton, and Corey Fazalare) to the state capitol.

DeMarco is currently in his sixth season at the helm of the tennis program and it is by far the most fruitful of his tenure.  The girls team is unblemished with an 18-0 mark while the boys have only lost once and hold a 17-1 record.  These players despite being so good are relatively young especially in the experience department. “Last year they were all pretty much first year players.  They gained a lot of experience and that has been the difference.  Last year I only took two people to the state tournament and this year I’m taking seven,” explained DeMarco.

In order for these players to improve at such a rapid rate one might expect them to practically live on the tennis court, but actually it’s the complete opposite according to DeMarco.

“I get them during tennis season which is about three months.  I have a lot of players that play multiple sports.  The first day of tennis practice they are ready for it.  They have had so much time off that they are hungry for the tennis season to come.”

The cohesiveness of these girls and boys is a main reason for their positive attitudes and superior play. “They are all friends and they like to play tennis.  They are getting better together and that is the reason that we are having this success, is because they are getting better at the same time.  There is a lot of team unity. They are friends in school and friends on the tennis court.”

The goal of every tennis team in the Mountain State is to be ready for the state tournament and that is what has happened in Shinnston.  “When you look back at the first matches of the season to now, we have improved so much.  I think we are peaking right now and we are going to have a good state tournament.”

All of this winning is going to pique the interest of the youth, which will help this program for years to come.  “My first year I had seven girls and six boys and I barely had a team. Now every time that I have tryouts, a slew of students come.  It’s definitely a program that is building in Shinnston and the Lincoln area.  I hope it continues and I think this success is going to help.”

That will do it for now.  Until next week…take care and God Bless!