Milan tennis coaches celebrate successful start to 2017 season
By Logan Watson
The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs are off to a historic start on their 2017 season, and Head Coach Derek Morales and Assistant Coach Carol Parkins shared their excitement last week with the members of the Milan Rotary Club.
At the midway point in their season, the girls are undefeated after five matches and the boys are not far behind at an impressive 4-1. Coach Morales is currently in his third year heading the program, and could not be more proud of the progress they have made thus far.
“A lot of these kids started in the program at the same time I did,” Morales told the club. “Seeing them grow in the sport is awesome, especially since they’re having such a great year.”
The ‘Dogs’ records are the best that they have been in several years, which is a testament to the work that the players and coaches have put into the program. The ‘Dogs’ off-season conditioning program and summer lessons with coaches from Bethel University are now paying dividends, but Coach Morales says the real test of how far his teams have come is quickly approaching. The ‘Dogs have a match coming up against the Dyersburg Trojans, one of the top teams in the District for the last few years.
The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs have been seeing unprecedented success so far this season, and Coach Morales is hoping 2017 is the year for the ‘Dogs to not only contend in the District tournament, but move deeper into the playoffs than ever before. Regardless of how the rest of the season falls for the Bulldog and Lady Bulldog aces, their performance has already begun to generate interest in the program, which Morales thinks will benefit the tennis program in the years to come.
Coach Morales also bragged on some of his standout players, some of which he brought along to meet the Rotarians. Sophomore Brooklyn Barnes, who is currently the Lady Bulldogs’ #1 seed, is currently undefeated in singles play, as is the Lady Bulldogs’ #2 seed Abby Gray. Barnes and Gray are also 5-0 in doubles action, which makes them a serious threat as the postseason approaches. Coach Morales also recognized the Bulldogs’ #2 seed, senior Alex Twilla, not only for his prowess on the court, but in the classroom, as well. According to Coach Morales, Twilla is currently the highest-ranked student in the Class of 2017, with a 4.0 GPA and a composite score of 35 on the ACT. Morales also bragged on Adarius Hill, a first-year player who has rocketed out to a 5-0 start on the season, despite having never picked up a tennis racquet until this year.
The club also announced that Adrianna Smith, one of Coach Morales’ other improved players, was selected to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA) on the campus of Austin Peay University this summer.
Many of the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs are multi-sport athletes, and with Coach Morales bringing in some of his football players, not to mention their very impressive showings on the court this season, has generated some buzz for the traditionally niche sport among the students. Morales suggested that having more student-athletes at Milan High School paying attention to tennis in the face of some of the more popular spring sports, such as baseball and softball, is a victory in itself.
“We’re very excited about how the program is growing,” said Morales. “They’ve got kids in the hallways talking about tennis, which is something we’ve never really had before at this level.”
Regardless of how the rest of the season pans out for the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs tennis teams, their impressive start and dedication to the program has shown there is room on top of the mountain for another pack of ‘Dogs to dominate as only Milan can.