Coach Brian Totten

The Bartlett Yancy Women’s tennis team had their share of bright moments this 2021 season. For the Lady Buccaneers, victories were in short supply, however, they did place two of their best players on the Mid-Carolina 2-A, All-Conference Team: Natalie Simmons and Kelsie Hooper. The entire Buc team was voted “Best Team Sportsmanship,” which can mean several things and hopefully not “fun to beat!”

Go team, go and good job, Coach Brian Totten.

These rising-seniors, Simmons and Hooper, displayed consistent improvement in each match, where they held down the Buc’s number two and number three courts. That meant they were seeded and played the opposing teams’ number two and three seeded players in terms of ability.

“I’m looking forward to finishing this ‘22 season as a senior and I think we both improved enough to be able to teach the younger players what we have learned. Natalie and I will be challenging for the number one court (seed). She was a court above me this past year,” explained the athletic Ms. Hooper last week.

“Natalie and I have been competing against each other for a long time and at about the same skill level. We play really good together in doubles, too. We’re good friends and practice our game as much as possible even during the hot summers. Last year we went to the beach together and played in the cooler weather so we would be ready when the season started. As far as playing after high school, I haven’t figured out if I will continue with tennis because I want to go into radiology and that’s a lot to focus on,” said Hooper.

“This year we are going to certainly challenge ourselves to play better on the courts and set a good example for the younger players,” promised the dedicated senior athlete.

Bartlett Yancy tennis players compete in a modest, but competitive league known as the Mid-Carolina 2-A, which features Chatham Central, Seaforth, North Moore and Jordan Mathews. A necessary part of the competition is the travel itself: average round-trip road distances are over 140 miles, which can affect an athlete’s game readiness.

“I’m pretty excited. I think Kelsie and I can really help the team. It was evident in the last year that we put a lot of time in making the year great for us,” reported Simmons by recent phone interview.

“Kelsie and I are pretty competitive between each other though we’re pretty good friends. But, when it comes to being first or second court, you want to be the first court, obviously. Freshman and sophomore year, she was above me. This year I was above her, so we’ll see how it goes next year (try-outs start in early August). We make a very good doubles team.” Simmons added. “I’ve been practicing over the summer and my boyfriend helps me plus his dad is really good at teaching tennis. Most of the time we went to a tennis court in Burlington closer to where we live.”

Recently, she had her favorite racquet re-strung by a tennis pro and he discovered that her grip (handle) was too thick for her small hands and had affected her tennis stroke. After it was restrung, grip rebuilt and re-sized to fit her hand, the racquet and Simmons started playing “a ton better!”

To try out and make the tennis team, female students should look for school announcements and e-mail alerts from the office of Ryan Coleman, new BY Athletic Director. Those should start showing up around August 2 and interested players will be able to challenge for specific court placements once they make the team.

“We do a “best out of three set” challenge to decide who defends what court and where. When a player wins a court, the losing player then ‘slides” down to the next lower court and that player slides down to her next lower court,” explained Coach Totten.

“For our players to continue to progress, they need to be playing and practicing all summer long. The regional tennis camps are out there (try the Internet) for the girls to attend and that’s a good way to improve their game and build self-confidence. It’s also an advantage to be around other players and see what skill-levels they are playing at and even more important, practicing correct tennis drills with motivated athletes,” suggested Coach Totten.

“Our goal next year is to advance to the regionals and then to the state playoffs. That’s my Christmas wish and definitely our team goal!”