FDA chasing state titles

Published 4:16 pm Friday, April 11, 2014

The Fort Dale Academy boys and girls tennis teams are both tournament-bound next week, coming on the heels of Tuesday’s matchups with Pike Liberal Arts.

FDA head tennis coach Elizabeth Matthews delivered a personal challenge of self improvement to all of her players before heading to the courts.

“I asked each player to try to improve their personal score from the first time we played Pike Liberal Arts this season,” Matthews said.

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“Most players achieved that.  In addition, our boys’ team lost the first match to Pike, but came back to have a team win this second time we played them.”

The wins send both teams to Lagoon Park in Montgomery Monday and Tuesday with a great deal of momentum, as the FDA girls are undefeated with a 12-0 season record.

Moreover, the top three players on the girls team — No. 1, Ashton Scott, No. 2, Marion Lightfoot and No. 3, Mary Clair Carlton — are also undefeated.

Fourth-seed Madison Ann Gaston has only one recorded loss for the regular season, the No. 2 seed doubles team is undefeated and the No. 1 seed doubles team also only has one loss.

Matthews is confident that the forward momentum of excellent play will continue well into the postseason.

“If our players all compete to the best of their ability, the girls’ team should have another great year at state,” Matthews said.

“Our boys team is growing stronger each year.  We lose only one senior after this season — No. 3 seed Hill Dunklin.  Hill, who has been a solid and dependable member of the team for many years, will be sorely missed.”

Fort Dale Academy has a tradition of excellence concerning its tennis program, as the girls team has been crowned state champions 11 times in the past 20 years alone, and has been runner-up at the state level for at least three additional years.

The boys team was runner-up at state in 2012.

But instead of succumbing to the burden of success, Matthews is using it as fuel to improve even more.

“Our players know they have a lot to live up to, but they are committed to tennis and work hard on their games,” Matthews added.

“I’m very proud of how all of our players have done this year, especially individually.

“One of my main personal goals is to see each player continue to improve, both throughout the season as well as from one year to the next, and I think we have already accomplished that goal.  If we are fortunate enough to win some matches at the state tournament, it will just be a culmination of all of the hard work these players have put into their games throughout the season.”