DISTRICT INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
District 5-A/AA Tournament at Lee University, 9 a.m.
District 5-AAA Tournament at Bradley Central, 11 a.m.
District 7-A/AA Tournament at Champions Club, 12
District 6-A/AA Tournament at Standifer Gap, 1
Hixson junior Dylan Millwood can remember his first-ever tennis match, although he's not overly fond of the memory.
"I was playing against [former Chattanooga Christian standout and current University of Georgia starter] Will Reynolds, and he hit a serve that knocked the paint off the line," Millwood noted.
Early memories weren't too good for the majority of the Wildcat boys' team, as a core group of four freshmen came in with then-new coach Raul Fernandez. Only George Ozborn had prior playing experience, and it showed as the team won only two matches that season.
Under the encouragement of Fernandez, they started playing in a junior tennis league, and with that came improvement in the team's overall play. They won five matches last year before an 8-6 record in the regular season this year.
Going into the District 6-A/AA individual tennis tournament, which starts today at Standifer Gap at 1 p.m., the team has a doubles' tandem that will be seeded in Millwood and Myles Goforth.
Ozborn noted that the improvement of the team has come from the fact they've built a solid core.
"Dylan might be the best example of improving," Ozborn said. "As a freshman, he couldn't even hit the ball, but now he's smacking it everywhere.
"We only had five players playing two years ago - now we've got a full team."
Fernandez is excited about the group of juniors, which includes Ozborn, Millwood, Corey Phillips, Jae Yoo, Goforth and Alex Shuford.
"It's exciting to see the improvements they've made," Fernandez said. "That year, our team was comprised of freshmen and juniors, but we've built that to the point to where both Corey and Jae had winning records this year.
"We're just trying to build a program here. There's a lot of good tennis here in Hixson, and we're hoping to get that back."
Said Millwood: "It's been a slow progress, but we've come a long way, and the more experience we get, the better we'll be over time."