The Fort Mill and Nation Ford girls’ tennis teams are gunning for a Region III title, with both hoping experience in the form of returning talent will lead them.
Fort Mill had a record 25 girls try out for this year’s team; it kept 15, and has the top three players in sophomore Rachel Brooks, junior Reagan Paff and sophomore Ellie Prain leading the Lady Jackets.
“Our team is young, but we had a lot of talent that came out of nowhere,” said Fort Mill head coach Angela Niccum.
Fort Mill lost two starters from last year’s squad, and two more moved away, but Niccum said she is excited to have German foreign exchange student Kaja Klages and seventh-grader Suzette Smit, who has been impressive so far.
Niccum said Smit has been so impressive that she could battle Brooks for the No. 1 spot.
With the added talent, Niccum said, she will be eager to play Nation Ford and Clover this season to see how they match up.
“Maybe this is our year,” she said. “Morale is high.”
Fort Mill opens the season Aug. 26 against Gaffney.
Goss leads Lady Falcons
Confidence also is brimming at Nation Ford, as the Lady Falcons return senior No. 1-player Suzanna Goss and junior No. 2-player Jordan Sawyer.
Nation Ford got two new prospects this year to replace key players who graduated.
“We are looking great,” said Lady Falcons’ head coach Ann Lamba. “They are going to be tough this year. I feel fortunate we got two new girls this year.”
Lamba said Nation Ford’s biggest challenge will from outside the region, in the three private North Carolina schools they play: Charlotte County Day, Charlotte Latin and Charlotte Catholic.
“They will be a challenge,” Lamba said, “but it’s great experience for the girls.”
Inside the region, Fort Mill and Clover should challenge the Lady Falcons for the title.
Nation Ford will waste no time in getting tested early, as it opens the season Aug. 26 against Clover, then faces Charlotte Country Day on Aug. 27.