Like most sports teams, Hixson High School's tennis team is like a family, but with six of its members being siblings, the team takes that notion to a whole new level.
"It's interesting playing with your sibling on a team," said Cory Phillips, whose sister, sophomore No. 2 seed Michelle Phillips, is also on the team. "It can be good because we spend more time together. You have someone to cheer on during the matches. We have someone always to hit with."
Senior No. 2 seed George Ozborn said he tries to watch over his sister, freshman No. 8 seed Maggie Ozborn, on the court.
"Being siblings gives us an advantage because we have someone to practice with," said Maggie, who said she likes playing tennis because no one is cut and she likes the ability to work one's way up in the ranks each year.
She and her brother both agree that having a tennis pro as a coach gives the entire team an advantage.
In total, the coed team enrolls 10 girls and seven boys under the direction of Racquet Club tennis pro Raul Fernandez. The Wildcats practice Monday-Friday from 3-5 p.m. at the Racquet Club in Hixson. The tennis season runs through early May. Coaching sessions focus on fundamentals of how to hit with a forehand, a backhand, volleys and serves.
"On our way home from tennis practice, we talk about what we need to do better," said junior No. 6 seed Lydia Lindsey, referring to her brother, No. 5 seed Jacob Lindsey. "We discuss whether to work on forehands or volleys. We do a lot of drills in practices."
Jacob said tennis team members put in at least 12 hours of practice per week to perfect their swing.
All the sibling pairs have a family background in the sport that stretches beyond their current court time.
"Our mom is big into tennis and got us into it at a young age," said George, adding that he and Maggie also played tennis in middle school. "Our parents pushed us to play sports. We took to tennis because it's fun."
For the Phillips family, "tennis is a family tradition," according to Cory.
"My mom, Chief Mary Phillips, was stationed at a Navy base in Gulf Port, Miss., and I decided to start playing tennis there. We all joined a team and started playing," he said.
Now even the youngest of the Phillips family, St. Jude School eighth-grader Carl Phillips, plays tennis too, he said.
"Tennis is really good exercise," said Lydia. "It's nice to go play after school and not think about anything except playing."