Successful season has the tennis program looking forward

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Head Coach Chris Wise wanted to improve the way tennis was played at Picayune Memorial High School because he felt that in order for the team to be successful something had to change.

“I think coming in more prepared is the biggest thing,” Wise said.

“Changing the culture is what I’m trying to do. Bit by bit. When they step on the court it’s all business. There’s a moment when you need to turn it on. Understanding that is where I’m seeing them make improvements every year.”

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That change has led to the team improving drastically and now they have a taste of what it’s like to play in the big time tournaments, he said.

This past season, the team took six athletes to the state tournament in Oxford, Miss., and even went to the playoffs.

“It was a great opportunity,” Wise said.

“I expect to bring back several athletes to the tournament next year, and for the team to be more competitive.”

Another incredible story from within the team is that of Joseph Massengale. The player was in the midst of a match when suddenly his playing hand went numb. Surgery was required, and a slight adjustment to his conditioning and racket was necessary. However, after that Massengale came out swinging.

“He came back early in the season and struggled with a lot of pain,” Wise said. “He came out towards the end of the season and did well after overcoming the injury. He has two more years and a perfect frame and a lot of potential.”

With the season over, Wise is having his athletes work to improve their respective games in a variety of ways.

“The mixed doubles players compliment each other well,” Wise said.

“We’re working to improve how they communicate with each other and their skills. I think they’re going to be a good bit better next year.”

This past year, the squad was inexperienced, but now they have experience and a good deal of returning players for the coming season.

“Most of the squad was pretty young, but now we’ll have a fair number of seniors,” Wise said.

“We have a very promising girls single and her brother is joining the program as well.”

Wise says that at the end of the day, it’s the students, not their athletic ability, that makes the job so enjoyable.

“I have been fortunate to have some extraordinary kids, all honor students,” Wise said.

“They’re a phenomenal group of kids, a great little family, and they give me joy. They’re extraordinary people to be around.”