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Picayune tennis preparing for the start of the season

Starting on Jan. 27 members of Picayune Memorial High School’s tennis team were finally able to begin practicing.

The 23 athletes have been hard at work preparing for the first competitive match that’ll take place in late February.

The program includes boys singles, girls singles, boys doubles, girls doubles and mixed doubles.

Picayune will play multiple times a week at certain points in the season as the players try to make it into the district and state playoffs.

The Maroon Tide has to play all of its competitions on the road due to lack of access to nearby tennis courts, but that didn’t stop the team last year from making it into the playoffs.

A major part of tennis is positioning.

The ball travels fast enough that if an athlete is just slightly out of position an opponent can take advantage.

Positioning takes on a whole new aspect when it comes to doubles tennis.

The two athletes have to know which areas of the court to cover; just the slightest of miscommunication could cost the pair a point.

“I try to get athletes playing together in doubles that compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but also get along well, communicate well and play on similar levels,” Head Coach Chris Wise said.

There are several other aspects of tennis the Maroon Tide’s players have been focusing on since practices began.

Things like accuracy, communication, ball placement and capitalizing on an opponent’s predictability have all been areas of emphasis for Picayune.

Wise said an aspect in which the team seems to have already improved in is the players’ competitiveness.

In some of the competitions athletes will be one on one with an opponent.

Having the drive to be better and outcompete an opponent can set tennis players apart and Wise said he likes what he’s seen so far in that department.

“The level of competition has risen and that’s something to be proud of, but also something I’ve been pushing as far as being more consistent,” Wise said.

The first matches of the season will take place against Pass Christian on Feb. 28, so the team still has some time to improve their game.

Wise said that given how his team performed last year and the talent he has available to him, this year could see the Maroon Tide go even further into the playoffs.

“My goal this year is to get back in the playoffs and hopefully get to the second round. I’m hoping that we’ll fair pretty well in district, I have that expectation,” Wise said.