As February winds down, the Dutch Fork men’s tennis team is looking to build on a strong season last year and become even more successful and reach their goals for this season.

As February winds down, the Dutch Fork men’s tennis team is looking to build on a strong season last year and become even more successful and reach their goals for this season.   

After coming up just short of winning region last year, there are high expectations for Dutch Fork this season.

“My expectations for this season are to be region champions,” senior Robert Kirtley said. “We came in second last year, but now we are smarter, stronger, and much more aggressive and passionate than previous years.”

Along with team goals, tennis is mostly an individual sport and there are also personal achievements to be attained.

“I have high expectations for my senior season. Maybe a deep run into the playoffs and to make it to the state singles tournament,” senior Evan Major said. “We put in a lot of work on and off the courts during the off season to help improve our game.”

Team manager Mitchell Lambert sees potential for this team to be special, but knows that it takes hard work to reach it.

“We’re expecting a lot this season. The boys are just excited to be back out there and start competing,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to continue taking it one day at a time and aim for better performances every single day.”

Working hard is something that the men’s tennis team has gotten accustomed to in a short time and is a challenge that they invite.

“As a team we have been constantly practicing.  If coach sees a problem with any sort of fundamentals then he drills us with repetition until we get it right,” Robert said. “Everyone has different kinks in their game and now is the time to work them out before the season officially begins.”

While Dutch Fork has been improving, they are still on the outside looking in on being the best team in the region.

“Within our region Spring Valley is going to cause us the most trouble.  We lost to them last year but this year our players are more experienced and more able to compete at a higher level,” Robert said. “To do this we have to continue to build chemistry as a team by practicing together and working on each other’s weaknesses.”

Evan also knows that Dutch Fork is looking up at Spring Valley and will have to beat the best in order to be the best in region.

“This year our biggest competition is Spring Valley. If we beat them we win region,”  Evan said. “Also Irmo, Chapin, A.C Flora, and Lexington are teams that will give us a fight. To overcome them we have to keep a level head and continue to play confident. If we have a packed house for our home matches it also gives us a big advantage.”

The team has come a long way to even be able to contend for region, but there is no easy satisfaction found with this team.

“Consistency is how you’re going to win tennis matches, plain and simple. That will be the number one thing we work on this year,” Robert said. “We know that we can reach our goals if we stick to our plan, now it’s just us keeping our eye on the ultimate prize and not getting distracted from it.”

Story by Josh German