Northwest tennis off to strong start despite youth

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Even with a big showdown with Keller being postponed due to rain last Friday, the Northwest tennis team is ready to show it can compete in the upper tier of District 4-5A.

The Texans have just two senior girls and a senior boy on the squad, but leadership and talent aren’t lacking.

Head coach Patrick Parmer said the Texans were looking to mirror the record of Keller, as Northwest is currently at 2-2 in district matches.

Another key hurdle for placing in the top four spots and a preferred seed in the district tournament was set for Tuesday, after the press deadline, when Northwest was to play Central.

Northwest is making a strong showing this fall season mostly on the basis of a stellar nucleus of junior girls, including Majidah Cochran, Angelica Gregory and Lindsey Kirkland.

“We played four matches in August with a chance to get experience,” Parmer said. “We also did some mix and match in terms of doubles (partners) and determining our numbers for everyone so that when we headed into district, we have clue,” he said.

The mixing and matching is paying off, thus far for Northwest.

Cochran is 14-3 in all matches so far this season with her only singles loss coming to a Vernon player early in the year.

The junior is undefeated in district matches and is partnered with Kendal Jones in doubles.

Cochran has already hauled in many tournament wins and has her sights set on a run for a district tournament placement to send the team to the area tournament.

And although she has been dominant in singles, Cochran said her affinity for volleys and an aggressive style of play has her preference leaning toward the doubles game.

“In singles, the focus is more on moving my opponent around and making deep shots,” she said.

Another undefeated doubles team in district thus far is Gregory and Hayleigh Hutyra in the number 3 spot.

Gregory is 7-1 overall and has also been playing mixed doubles with teammate Bryce Alverson.

Another junior, Gregory said many of the class have been playing together since their freshmen year or even middle school.

Last spring, Gregory said they took third in doubles at the district tournament. “We’re shooting to at least make the finals of district this year,” she said. “The girls are doing a lot better this year and winning most of our matches and fighting every week.”

Kirkland is also 7-1 this season in her junior year with her lone loss coming in the number 2 singles against Carroll.

“We’ve been doing really well,” Kirkland said. “Our guys are OK, too, but are mostly juniors. They will really dominate next year as seniors.”

Kirkland noted Keller, Carroll and Central are key competition for them this year. The fact that Keller beat the Texans in the second round of last year’s district tournament weighs on the mind of the Northwest players.

“This year we’re pretty strong,” Cochran said. “We should beat all the doubles teams in the district. If not this year, then next year on our way to state.”

Parmer said the district matches are for seeding in the district tournament the second week of October.

The top four teams out of the district tourney will advance to the area round.

“I know the kids a lot better in my second year,” Parmer said. “I feel more comfortable, but the only real difference is that I can actually coach, rather than try and learn the players and how they play.”

Making it to the area tournament will be a big boost for the spring season, too, Parmer said.

“Absolutely, it will give us momentum and confidence for the spring season.”

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