Like many teams, Banks County tennis (both boys and girls) were shut down in the midst of fantastic campaigns. The girls are 7-0, dropping only a single set to date. The boys are 5-2, but both losses came without 4 starters, who were still in basketball season in the state playoffs. Special things were/are brewing in Homer.
“I am extremely proud of these kids,” says head coach Natasha Savage. “They play with such focus and intensity. Our focus this year has been on mental toughness. These kids play with that in mind. We try not to let outside influences control our mindset. We have to control our mindset and that way we can set the tone for the match.”
They’ve definitely been setting the tone in each match, which results in the final outcomes. The way that both teams, especially the girls, have played this year is something we haven’t quite seen before.
“I have not,” answers Savage on whether she’s ever seen a team as dominant as the Lady Leopards. “They seem more focused this year. The girls had a really good year last year, as well. We didn’t have any seniors last year. This year seems different with Jill [Martinet] and Mikayla [Beckett] taking more of that senior leadership role. I think it means more to them.”
The girls and boys are both 1-0 in region play as well. The girls won 5-0 over East Jackson, Habersham, White County, Rabun (twice), and East Hall. A 4-1 win over Hart County marked the only time they’ve dropped a set. Chloe Smith leads the girls at #1 singles, and is 7-0 herself. Most every girl on the roster has that same record, including Jaden Hoard at #2 singles.
While this season has been fantastic, Savage knows that there’s not much we can do during this stoppage.
“First, I pray for those that have been affected by this virus,” says Savage. “The health and safety of people are first and foremost when dealing with issues such as this. Second, it’s sad for the athletes that have worked so hard to get to this point, especially the seniors. We wait all year long to be able to step foot on the court. We haven’t been able to see a lot of court time due to the rain we have had and now we are facing a pandemic.”
The truth is, every school is dealing with the same thing. What hurts most, is that the seniors are losing a good portion of what should be a special season.
“I really hate this for our seniors,” states Savage. “I know they are disappointed because they were excited about the direction we were headed. We are trying to be optimistic. We also know that this pandemic is far bigger than tennis and as a community, we need to do our part in slowing the spread. We have to treat this time like ‘dead week’ in July. This means that we cannot facilitate practices or workouts. I am encouraging them to remain active, but in a safe way during this time.”
For the boys, Pierce Martin mans the #1 singles, and is 4-1 overall there, while Gabe Caudell is 4-3. Banks’ boys reeled off 5 straight wins following an 0-2 start with a short roster.
Everyone holds their breath and takes it day by day at this point. There are many who are pessimistic of the chances of playing any more spring sports, while still others hold onto hope that it will happen. Regardless, Savage has a message for fans, players, parents, etc.
“If we don’t get to play another match this season, we will get back to work when we can. We will put in work during the offseason and really work on fine-tuning our skills. We have a lot of depth on these teams. Next year will be another exciting time for both girls’ and boys’ tennis. We have some kids coming up that will be beneficial to both teams and help us make a run for state.”
Until then, we can all join together in prayer that this disease will be eradicated and allow us to get back to our normal routines, though in a way that makes us stronger, more full of faith, and more united than ever.