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Poplarville tennis players honing their skills

The start of the season may still be a couple of weeks away for the Poplarville Hornets tennis team, but that hasn’t stopped the athletes from trying to improve on the court.

There are 15 athletes in the squad, down from 17 last year, and a lot of the players are new to the program.

March 3 will be the first competitive action for the Hornets, so the emphasis in practice has been getting ready for the first tournament.

Head Coach Kim Meyers said some of her athletes are pretty inexperienced when it comes to tennis.

The players have all been taught the rules and regulations of the sport, but the mechanics of playing tennis can be difficult to pick up.

To remedy this, Meyers has been having her players focus on the main tenets of tennis like movement, angles and ball placement.

There are numerous intricacies and details the athletes will learn as they play, but for now Meyers wants them focusing on the basics.

“I’m trying to get them to have correct form, technique and be consistent with their strokes. They’re knowledgeable about what they did wrong, by watching and listening to others they learn that,” Meyers said.

Ball placement is an obvious key in tennis because if a player can’t get the ball in bounds their opponent receives a point.

However, finding the happy medium between hitting a ball too hard out of bounds compared to hitting with too little power can be a struggle.

Meyers said there’s a technique to correctly placing the ball and once her athletes master that, then they can start adding power to their shots.

“It’s a finesse, technique and touch. They need to learn where to place it first, then after getting that down you can add some power. They’re picking it up quickly,” Meyers said.

There are regional and state tournaments the team as a whole can qualify for.

There are also opportunities for individual players who perform well enough, so even if the team doesn’t make it to the playoffs the athlete can still advance.

Growing as a collective will be a theme for the team this year under Meyers as the young players become more comfortable on the court.

Meyers said due to her team’s youth she has her players set individual goals, which could then lead to success as a team.

“Overall I just want them to become more skillful, hang in there and hold their own,” Meyers said.