Experience matters on court

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 19, 2014

There’s going to be nothing new for Andalusia early next week at the Class 4A state tennis tournament, other than its location.

The Bulldogs boys and girls squads will head up to Decatur tomorrow afternoon to play in the two-day exhibition at the Almon Tennis Center at Point Mallard State Park, starting on Monday.

Luckily for AHS, both squads have had prior experience at the state level.

For the boys, three seniors — David May, Jackson Moore and Brandon Scruggs — have been to the state tournament at least five times. For the girls, they’ve made their presence known early on, but haven’t progressed past the first round in the last two years.

“It’s nothing to them,” AHS boys coach Perry Dillard said about his group. “We’re going to to up and just do the best we can after playing all of those private schools (earlier this season). Last year, we came in fourth in the state, which was the first public school to do that.

“Every guy who played last year is back,” he said. “They’re seasoned veterans. We hope we do pretty well.”

AHS girls coach Daniel Bulger said the big goal at the tournament is to get somebody to the second round.

“We’ve had a couple lost in the first round matches, and haven’t gotten anybody out of the second round,” Bulger said. “Hopefully, we’ll get somebody past the second round and to the second day.”

Bulger added that getting to the second day (Tuesday) would be a big accomplishment.

Andalusia doesn’t know who it will face in the first round. At every state tennis tournament, a drawing is held to determine the match ups. From there, each player is put in bracket play, where the format is single elimination.
Dillard said having prior playing experience at this level can be beneficial to the team, especially when it comes to matches that matter.

“When you do something over and over again; I can tell you from my own experience. Running a half marathon about killed me, but running in the second one wasn’t too bad. (Dillard’s wife) Stephanie talked me into doing one. Mentally, I knew when my body was going to break down.

“Because they have experience they can put it through mentally,” he said. “They have to play four times — two singles rounds and a doubles round. At the state tournament, it’s about who is in good shape and who can make the play when they need to.”

Bulger said the girls need to focus on doing what they normally do in successful situations.

“They just need to play within their means and not try to force anything. Try to make great shots, put it in play and put pressure on the other person to make them make mistakes,” he said.

Tennis action will start bright and early Monday morning.