Friday, August 23, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Panther tennis finishes in third

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School tennis team started the 2013 season with solid play all around at the Searcy Lions Invitational tournament last weekend as both the boys’ and girls’ teams finished third overall out of eight teams.

Seth Smith had the strongest showing amongst the Cabot boys as he advanced all the way to the finals of the tournament in singles play, and on the girls’ side, junior twins Lexi and Tori Weeks also took second place in the tournament in doubles play.

Cabot tennis coach Mary Emily Nash was pleased with the play of her second-place finishers, as well as with the play of the doubles team of Kristen Sumler and Molly Wood, who advanced all the way to the semifinals of the tournament.

“They are superstar athletes,” said Nash of the Weeks sisters, who are both standouts on the Lady Panther track team. “They are good at just about everything that they do. And this is Molly and Kristen’s second year to play together, and this is Tori and Lexi’s third year to play together. So I expect big things from them.”

Sumler and Wood are two of Cabot’s five seniors on the Lady Panthers’ team. The Panthers have seven players total on their team, four of which are seniors. Nash hasspent seven years with the Cabot tennis program and with the experience on both the boys’ and girls’ teams, she expects both groups to compete for the school’s first conference championship during her tenure.

Cabot’s first conference match will be Sept. 5 against Little Rock Central at home.

“Central always has a pretty strong team,” Nash said. “So I really think that’ll give us a better idea of where we stand in the conference, but I really think we’ll be able to compete with them this year. We’ve had some really good groups in the past and some really standout athlete singles players, but I feel like the difference this year is that we can really compete for a conference title instead of just an individual title.

“I have very high expectations for this group. I have several athletes that share sports and do several things, but on the boys’ side, our number one and two (players) are just tennis players. So they spend a lot of time working on their game.”

Smith is the No. 1 singles player for the Panthers and the No. 2 is junior Jacob Dills. For the junior singles players on the girls’ team, Nash said that as of right now her No. 1 and 2 players are Charl Young and Vanessa Wiebling.

“As of right now those are my number one and two, but that’s depending on if someone challenges them and beats them, because we have some kids that are pretty strong as far as being consistent with their play.”

As far as other players to watch for, Nash said that second-year player Jordan Slayden could make some noise as the season progresses.

“This is only her second year to play,” Nash said, “but she’s right up there competing for one of those top spots. So I really feel like she could play number one or two for us as well. Even though it’s just her second year, she puts a lot of time in on the court. She’s got to clean up a few things in her game, but once she fixes those, I feel like she’ll be one of our strong players as well.”

Both the Panther and Lady Panther teams were set to compete at Searcy again on Thursday, but the match was rained out. Cabot will play again Tuesday at home against Bryant.