Oxford’s goal to garner a fifth straight state championship in tennis begins today with a home match against Grenada. OHS coach Louis Nash will try to win the 5A title without the services of four seniors who lead the Chargers to a 116-1 record over the last six years, including four state titles and 11 individual championships.
“Those were four great players and even better people. You don’t replace that much talent and leadership but we are slowly building a new team with its own personality and expectations,” Nash said of the departed Zach Wilder, Erin Dyer, Sterling Davis and Mary Bryan Barksdale.
Leading the way
Senior Andrew Mullen and juniors Baxter Elliott and Robert Nance return to lead the boys team. Mullen was one half of the boys state champion mixed doubles team, while Elliott and Nance won the No. 1 boys doubles title.
Quinn Elliott (freshman) and Will Swindoll (eighth grade), who won the No. 2 doubles title last year, return as does Judson Watson (senior), Arlis Williams (junior), Callan Shinall (eighth grade) and Collier Phillips (senior). Those six have experience at the varsity level and will be counted to step in and play, according to Nash.
“At the beginning of the year our strength will be throughout the boys lineup. A lot of those guys have looked sharp,” Nash said. “The girls group is working and by mid-season, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
Edlin returns for girls
Senior Ann Marie Edlin returns to lead the girls team. She has advanced to the semifinals and finals of the individual state tournament and Nash expects good things for her in 2012.
Senior Cari Hansen has some varsity experience, while Embrey Inman (junior) and Kara Rose (sophomore) won the No. 2 girls doubles state championship in 2011. Sarah Nash (eighth grade) and McClellan Davis (eighth grade) have some varsity experience as a doubles team, while senior Emily Domke (senior) is new to the team and has been a pleasant surprise with her doubles play.
Despite Oxford’s recent success, Nash doesn’t take all the credit.
“Again, I’m fortunate to be joined by Ashley Freeman. She is in her third year of being an assistant coach. She continues to be an invaluable resource and mentor for our program,” Nash said. “The team would like to thank the community for their support of the program, especially (Oxford Park Commission Director) Rob Boyd, Mike Young of the OPC and all of you who encourage and play tennis with the youngsters like you do.” (February 27, 2012, Page 3B)