Harper Caswell, left, and her sister Samantha Caswell, stand with their tennis rackets at the Baylor tennis courts in Chattanooga, Tenn. Prep tennis is preparing for the upcoming season. Staff photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press
In talking the talk about the concept of one team, Baylor’s tennis players talk it together.
Recently an interview with three Lady Red Raiders turned into a team meeting when the remaining girls’ players joined in. And a couple of boys’ players watched from nearby as the 2010 Division II-AA state runners-up talked about how being one team was beneficial last season and should be the same this year.
“The biggest thing is that we’re one team and not two,” senior Sarah Berchuck said.
Added freshman Samantha Caswell: “It really helps when we play a school that doesn’t have coed teams, like GPS or Hutchison, because our support is louder having both teams together.”
Both Baylor teams advanced to state-title matchups last spring, and Caswelll was the girls’ individual runner-up as an eighth-grader.
“We’re wanting to do it all again,” she said. “Last year we had no idea what to expect, but we want to go into each match with a good attitude. We want people to know Baylor is there, because we’re going to be loud, cheering and supportive of our team.”
The teams went together to Charleston, S.C., for a spring-break trip last year but will split up this season. The girls will go to Santa Belle Island to train while the boys go to a national event in Louisville in hopes of getting a national ranking. The girls will enter the Louisville tournament the following week.
“Tennis is such a difficult sport to coach because everything besides practice is individual,” said Ned Caswell, Baylor’s director of tennis. “I know every coach tries to create a team atmosphere; we’re just trying to do things together to create that ‘one team’ concept.”
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams have returning players capable of making at least one title happen. Harper Caswell joins her sister as returners, along with Berchuck and freshman Maggie Crumbliss, who between the two of them lost only one match last season. German exchange student Sonja Erkovic joined the team in the preseason and has a powerful stroke.
The Baylor boys lost No. 1 Carlos Cuevas but return Michael Goldstein, Anderson Scarpa and Alex Cooper and have talented transfers in Nathan Schley from Grace Academy and Jackson Pride from South Carolina. The Red Raiders are among the state favorites along with Memphis University School and Montgomery Bell Academy.
“We only have one goal here, and that’s to win state,” Goldstein said. “That’s the only thing in our mind, and with anything else we won’t be happy.
“The girls want it just as bad as we do.”
Added Ned Caswell: “Both teams were real close last year, and they’re hungry this year. They’re using this closeness as motivation.”