COVINGTON, Ga. — Ready to break their 2018 losing streak, the Newton Lady Rams tennis team is back with a new coach and a team eager to learn.
The Rams are now three games into the 2019 season and are being led by first-year tennis coach, Jacqueline Tate.
Newton’s already got three games under its belt, opening the season against Strong Rock and then following with region tussles against Grayson and Archer.
But reflecting on their winless 2018 campaign, the girls are motivated and working extra hard to show their skill. Tate reports that she is optimistic about the season and is already seeing success.
“When we first started, girls that were new were terrified to step onto the court, but now they’re starting to see the ropes and become a little more confident in their shots,” Tate said. “There’s a big improvement. We went from not even winning games to now winning matches. We’re not winning games yet, but we’re winning matches.”
As a result, the ladies have gained confidence because of the first few matches of the season and are ready to continue pushing. Returning players are using their mistakes from last year to improve their game this year.
“I plan on listening to my teammates more and more importantly, support one another,” said Aulora Edwards who was also a standout on Newton’s softball team. “We’re also working on staying out of our heads.”
Edwards’ teammate Aliyah Momin says she notices the difference a year has made in her and her team’s play.
“Last year was my first year doing singles and I think this year I’m developing more of a headstrong mentality to improve my mental game, [in order to improve] my physical game,” she said.
Communication is not much of a problem for the girls as Tate says their team chemistry is on point.
“They get along so well, and that’s a first for me,”Tate said. “We have no problems and they get along so well with one another.”
The team all agreed that their primary goal this season is to win games and improve their skills.
With the guidance of Tate, the girls feel that they are improving.
“Coach Tate breaks down things more than last year’s coach,”Edwards said. “She works on our technique with us and is getting us back to fundamentals.”
“She also brings discipline to the team,” Durline Dorisca said. “She’s hard on us, but it’s a good thing. It pushes us to do better. She also teaches us skills and techniques that we didn’t know.”
That tough love is welcomed by Dorsica, particularly since she’s completely brand new to the game.
“I touched a tennis racquet for the first time in January, Dorisca added. “A lot has changed since then. My technique has gotten better and my shots are more precise. Coach says that how you practice is how you play, and I’m really starting to see that as the season goes on.”
The girls are engaging with Tate and very eager to improve and Tate is already seeing the effects of this season’s improvement on them.
“Along with the girls who are new, the returners are very eager to learn,” Tate said. “They are actually developing goals for the season and to get some postseason play in as well.”
Tate’s personal goals for the season deal less with winning games and more with leaving a mark on the girls and their mindsets.
“I just want them to improve every day. Whether it’s with team building, bonding or whatever,” Tate said. “I just want the girls to understand that whatever you do, you have to work for it. I just want to build that work ethic in them.”