After 25 seasons, Susan Ray no longer is McMinn County High School's tennis coach.
Under her direction, the Cherokees went to team state tournaments in 2008, 2010 and 2011, advancing to the finals in the first two. She also had individuals advance to the state "8 to 10 times" during her tenure.
Ray assistant Lynn Monroe has assumed head coaching duties. Ray said the two had considered switching roles, but she thought it was best to step away so Monroe can implement her own program.
"I have some extremely fond memories from over the years," Ray said. "I've had talented players, but I've had such good kids. The fact I was able to take three teams to state was incredible to me, and on a personal level I think it helped me reach the plateau for myself.
"I wanted to make sure I had the same passion for the program moving forward, and I wasn't sure I was going to have that this year."
Athletic director Jimmy Haynie said Ray is "hard to replace."
"She made multiple state appearances due to her dedication and hard work to help these kids become better players," Haynie said. "Lynn Monroe will do a wonderful job and I feel good that she'll keep the program on the same path, but it's going to be hard to replace a veteran like Susan for sure."
Baylor, McCallie go 2-2
Although they were pitted in first-round matches with the eventual finalists, the Baylor and McCallie tennis teams each went 2-2 in the Decoturf National Championships in Louisville, Ky., over the weekend.
Baylor's Red Raiders lost to runner-up Barron Collier (Fla.) in their first match but battled back through the consolation rounds to take 10th place. They beat Davis (Calif.) and Trinity (Ky.) before losing to Winter Park (Fla.) in the consolation final.
McCallie finished 13th, losing to Hinsdale Central (Ill.) in the first round and Winter Park in the consolation, but defeating Ocean Springs (Miss.) and Henry Clay (Ky.) on Saturday.
Baylor coach Philip Johnson praised the play of Niamke Shropshire and Claudio Baldovino, the latter going 3-1 at No. 5 singles in the tournament.
"I thought we were awesome," Johnson said. "I thought we stepped up to the plate, and our hard work over the past few months really showed. It's a really tough tournament, and we were hoping to get where we finished, so I was very pleased with what we did."
McCallie coach Eric Voges said seniors Daniel Pare and Aaron Speicher really stood out. Speicher, Turner Voges and Carter Eaves each went 3-1 during the tournament.
"There are no easy matches, and that's why we go to the tournament," Voges said. "You're going to have four hard matches in two days, but I thought we were more consistent the second day. A lot of teams we face will have really good No. 1s and No. 2s, but these schools were tough from top to bottom."
Proud yet sympathetic
Tyner soccer coach Randy Young was pretty pleased last week following the Rams' 14-2 win over Richard Hardy. Yet he remembers all too well being on the other side of that sort of score.
The Rams improved to 3-1 with Jorge Nieves and Mychal Gurley scoring three goals apiece. Richard Hardy, a newly formed coed program, dressed only 11 players and got two goals from Jeff Howard.
Over the past three seasons, the Rams have lost seven matches by at least six goals, so Young knows the feeling of being on a one-sided match. He played his varsity for only about 25 minutes in the Mar.
"I think I have a heightened sensitivity towards those types of matches, because I've seen it happen to us," Young said. "This year we have a really talented team, and we just did a good job of passing and possessing the ball."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311.