Montgomery bound

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Andalusia senior tennis players Mitchell Clark and Jake Ricardy both believe that the team will make a good showing at the Class 4A state tournament, which kicks off Thursday in Montgomery at Lagoon Park.

“We did pretty good last year, and we’ve got a pretty good team this year,” Clark said. “We’re hoping to do pretty good at state this year.”

Andalusia is among nine other top 4A schools at the tournament this year. The Bulldogs (10-3) will not know who they will play until today, coach Perry Dillard said.

In addition, the girls team will compete in the tournament as well.

Dillard said if there is one thing that he wants his players to “mirror” from the sectional tournament, where they came in second to UMS-Wright, he said just to play “fundamental” tennis.

“We’ve been real focused during practice this week,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll carry that on to the state tournament. Even though we’re young — four of the six guys have qualified for state multiple years.”

Dillard said five players have made multiple appearances at state.

Ricardy will make his fourth appearance; Clark, Mayur Patel and Chris Smith will make their third; and Alex Smith will make his second appearnce.

Last year, Andalusia finished in fifth place overall at the tournament.

“We just need to play good fundamental tennis,” Dillard said. “Tennis is not like other sports. You can’t prepare for a team — you just get ready for yourself.

“That’s what we’ve been doing all week is working on match play and playing a lot of games,” he said. “We’re building up our stamina for matches and games.”

Ricardy, the No. 1 seed on the Bulldogs team, said he is “excited” about state.

“The team has improved a lot,” he said. “We’ve really had a challenge this year.”

Just how has the team been challenged this year?

“We graduated two seniors,” Ricardy said. “A lot of the younger guys got a chance to have a year under their belts and a year of experience — us as well.”

As far as what the “keys” to Andalusia’s success are this week, both said to stay “focused.”

“We’re seniors and this is our last year,” Clark said. “We want to do well at state.”

Both agreed that they would like to beat UMS-Wright this year and said they are not nervous at all about the tournament.

Dillard said the team will make its way to Montgomery today and that his approach will not change since he began coaching the tennis team five years ago.

“Every year, our goal is to make it to state,” he said. “The last time Andalusia boys placed was in the mid 1990s and so anytime we can bring a trophy home — that would be nice.

“I’m going to coach it like I’ve done every other year,” he said. “I’m not going to do anything different.”