By Kevin Eickman
With a slow start to the season, the Milford High School tennis teams looked to be headed to a horrible season. With the boys dropping their first three matches, and the girls dropping their first five, there was little reason for optimism. However, as the season wore on, the dedication and commitment to the program by everyone involved produced positive results.
After their slow start the girls reeled off four in a row, leading to their final record of 4-9 for the season. In the Henlopen conference tournament, Milford had some players who excelled. Senior Jessica Downes placed third in first singles, while senior Crystal Rebimbas teamed with junior Rachel Lurwick to finish fourth place in doubles.
Talking with coach Jacquelyn Powers about this past season, she was very happy with how the year turned out “The girls really stuck with it, we didn’t start out too well, but the girls just kept working on their game all season long,” stated Powers. Powers believes that the leadership that Downes provided throughout the year, was a key factor for the team. “Jessica was a four year starter for Milford, she is a great girl and a real leader.” Powers added.
With Downes now a graduate, Powers will be looking to some newer players to step up and fill the void that has been created. One girl that she thinks can fill the bill is junior Kellie Topolski. “Kellie really improved as the season wore on,” Powers stated. “In the second half of the season she really caught fire, it would be great for her to keep it up.” Powers added that snother player to keep an eye out for is sophomore Esther Alice. “Esther is developing a very strong first service, and has some real potential.”
Talking with Power about what she liked most about the team, she was quick to mention the match against Cape Henopen. “During that game the Cape player suffered an injury, and instead of just sitting there and waiting. Jessica and the rest of the girls encouraged her and tried to make her feel better,” said Powers. “It’s that kind of class and sportsmanship that this team is about, I’m very proud of this group.”
The Milford boys team finished 6-9 on the year, and much like the girls, they got stronger as the season went on. The Bucs had a good team top to bottom, and coach Anne Carroll was very happy with how this year’s team turned out “There has been a lack of continuity in the program recently, but even with that the boys continued to improve,” stated Carroll.
There is great reason to be optimistic about the future of this team, as Milford had no seniors on this year’s squad. “We will have a core group of players returning next season, and that’s going to be huge for us,” Carroll stated. While this years squad may have been young, they were not without leadership. Junior Bryan Messick was a big part of this year’s team “Bryan provided a great deal of stability for us, he is great to have on the squad,” said Carroll.
Another player that will be returning next year will be freshman Colton Williamson, who finished second at the Henlopen championships. “Colton improved constantly throughout the course of the year, he is quite a player,” Carroll stated.
Looking back at the season, Carroll said she really had a great time coaching the team. “It was really great getting to know the team, they are a great group of young men who represent Milford well,” she said. Carroll also was thankful for the help she had during the year from assistant pro, Paul Williamson. “Paul was such a big help to us this year, I don’t know where we would have been without him.”