LONDON — North Laurel coach Bob Smith tagged the Lady Jaguar tennis team’s season a success after winning 11 matches while seeing freshman Jaron Gray qualify for the KHSAA State Tennis Championships.
“Coming into the year, I thought we'd have a chance to be decent as we had several girls that had played multiple years,” he said. “But a few of them were playing in the regular lineup for the first time. So we had experience, but not a lot of experience playing in the regular lineup.
“It all started with Jaron,” he added. “She was our leader and had a fantastic season. She had a few close calls, but she was able to win those and secure a No. 3 seed at the regional tournament. I was so happy for her to make state. She had a great time, and we hope to make that an annual trip as she's just a freshman. She's just scratching the surface at the player she can become. She's only going to get better and better, and I look forward to seeing her development.”
The youth movement didn’t end with Gray, though.
Smith said he had several young players step up and play important roles for North Laurel with even more expected to challenge for playing time next season.
“Eva (Clark) and Baylie (McCreary) were two important pieces to our team as they became a dangerous doubles team,” he said. “I’m proud of them gaining a No. 5 seed at regions and again, we're talking about a freshman and eighth-grader who will only get better. Brianna (Roedel) was a newcomer, but stepped into the regular lineup. She's a good athlete and just a freshman as well. Getting a singles win at regions should help her confidence moving forward.
“Reece (Couch) and Lorin (Sasser) got a tough draw at regions but had some good wins for us at No. 3 doubles,” Smith added. “Riya (Singh) and Julia (Lowe) usually played singles at (seeds) five and six and gave us some stability. Those were our main eight girls that played the majority of the time. We had several girls playing for the first time and several have picked it up well and will be challenging for playing time next season. The rest of the squad included Ashley King, Haley Taylor, Theron Loomis, Makinley Vaughn, Keana Sizemore, Bailey Roberts, Hannah Holt, Graycie Chadwell, Lily Robinson, Kaylie Proffitt, Lauren Campbell, and Meg Brock.”
With the loss of only two players, Smith expects to see the Lady Jaguars compete at a higher level in 2020.
“We only lose two seniors in Reece and Julia,” he said. “So I expect us to keep improving and be even better next season. Our top four this year were ninth-, eighth-, ninth-, and ninth-graders. So we should have a solid core for a few years. “Jaron will be entering her fourth year on the team and will be the anchor,” Smith added. “Then we'll also have multiple years of experience with Eva, Baylie, Riya, and Lorin.”