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Spring Coaches Compensating For Wet Weather

With spring sports tryouts in full swing at Halifax County High School and Halifax County Middle School, coaches are coming up with ways to compensate for drenched playing fields and still properly evaluate the athletes trying out for the different teams. Wet weather and the threat of ice forced cancellation of middle school tryouts Wednesday, but high school tryouts moved forward, with teams confined to gymnasiums at both schools.

With wet tennis courts curtailing practice outside, the high school tennis teams concentrated on conditioning inside the gym.

Both Comets head tennis coaches conceded that the continuing wet weather has hampered their evaluation process.

Boys tennis head coach David Riddle said the weather has been tough on everyone.

“It’s hampered off-seasoning conditioning as well,” he noted.

“The snow really prevented the guys from getting much court time in the weeks heading up to the season, so we have a little rust to shake off.
“But, we have three weeks before we have our first real match, so hopefully the weather will begin to cooperate with us a little better.”

The boys’ tennis team lost six players with a combined total of 20 seasons worth of experience from last year’s team, according to Riddle, who has three returning with experience at the top of the ladder.

“I’ve been pleased with the overall work ethic of the team, and the newcomers have showed some signs of progress.

“The main thing for us at this time will be time on the courts and hitting the ball as much as we can, so I think we could surprise some people if we continue to work hard and the guys give it their all in practice.”

Comets girls tennis head coach Greg Donner has a somewhat different situation, with 15-16 hopefuls at tryouts, many returning from last year.

“We have 15-16 out, maybe a couple more, and we have 10 returning from last year, so it’s a pretty solid group,” noted Donner.

“Jessica Palmer was our one seed last year, and we’ve got four or five under her who will battle for those four spots, so we’re solid for so early in the year.

“We’ve got everybody back who didn’t graduate and we have a few freshmen with experience and some with less, so we may have to cut back our roster to a few fewer players than we have before.”

“We will probably carry 10 or 11 players. The attitude is good and I have girls who really enjoy playing, so that’s a really big part of it,” continued Donner.

“The ones at the top of the ladder, Jessica, Blair (Jeffress) and Kimmie (Farmer) are really dedicated and provide a lot of leadership for the younger players.

“We’ve only been out one day and I was hoping to practice some strokes and do a few drills but with the wet conditions that won’t happen.

“We have to go inside and do some stuff but by early next week I hope to have my roster set.”

Comets varsity boys’ head soccer coach Frank Shealy conducted drills in the middle school gym because of wet practice fields.

“The grass hasn’t grown on the practice field at the high school yet and the conditions are horrible,” said Shealy.

“We’ve been on it several times, and the mud is ankle deep, so the guys can’t go full out because it’s a safety issue.”

Shealy has 20-23 juniors and seniors trying out for the varsity, and first-year jayvee head coach Jason Bomar has 32-33 eighth graders, freshmen and sophomores trying out for jayvee team.

“It’s just an evaluation process so far and the opportunity to have such a large number out is a good thing,” noted Shealy.

“Unfortunately, we’ll have to make a few cuts due to travel and uniform issues, but we’ve got some skill and athleticism and our job as coaches is to put both of them together.”

“I think Jason will help us a lot, and we have a talented group of younger players who have been playing a lot of travel soccer,” Shealy continued.

“We’re real pleased with what we have coming, and I’m very upbeat, regarding both the numbers we have and the condition of the kids.”

Off-season conditioning has been ongoing, and Shealy and his fellow coaches have a good head start on the evaluation process.

“We’ve been able to evaluate them the past several weeks, and we had an opportunity Monday and Tuesday to get them on the field,” he explained.

“I’m looking to keep 18, and I’m not stuck on that figure, but it’s a good problem to have.

“With what we have coming back and with what we have new, we should have a pretty solid starting lineup.”