When it comes to Milford tennis, over the years it has had its ups and downs. While there have been some solid players, the one thing that has been lacking is consistency. This year, both the girls’ and boys’ teams are trying to win and build a foundation for the future at the same time. While the task looks to be difficult, after speaking with girls coach Jacquelyn Powers, as well as reaching out to boys coach Keegan Worley, there is hope for the future. “We are lucky enough to have eighth graders in the program this season and I thing that will be a big help for us down the road,” Powers said. “When you can get an extra year of instruction with a player, it can really pay off in the future.”
The girls’ team will be anchored at number one singles starter by junior sophomore Summer Davis. Davis played well last season, despite the fact she battled injuries towards the end of the year last season. “I have really worked on my game during the off-season and I think that I can bring my game to the next level,” Davis said. “Some of the players in the Henlopen North really have a solid game that is where I am hoping to get to.” Powers believes this could be a big year for Davis. “If you watch her, compared to last year, you can see that she has elevated her game. If she can continue to improve, she has the potential to be very competitive.”
The rebuilding portion of the girls’ program is going to be tough; with six seniors graduating from last year’s squad, Powers understands that patience is going to be a key factor in building the team to where she wants it. “When you lose that number of players, it is very difficult to replace them,” she said. “That’s not an excuse, that’s a challenge and I think we are up for it. I can’t wait to see this program in a couple of years.”
On the boys’ side, Worley will begin his second season at the helm. Having played varsity tennis through high school, Worley instead chose to ply his athletic trade at Millersville (Pa.) University on the wrestling squad. In the off-season however; he stayed active on the courts as a way of keeping fit and maintaining a healthy weight.
When he took over last season as tennis coach, Worley found himself in charge of an undermanned squad. Faced with the challenge of not having enough players to field a team, Worley headed to the wrestling team to fill out his squad. “I went to my wrestlers at the end of the winter season and told them that if they didn’t play a spring sport, I expected to see them on the tennis courts. Sure enough, I had three guys on Monday that had never picked up a racket before who showed up and made a full seven-man roster. As a squad last year, we went 3-9 after having to forfeit some key matchups on the season due to illness or scheduling conflicts. This year, we have 12 guys on the roster as opposed to only the required seven, so I will not have to forfeit any matches.”
Worley is looking for an improvement from this year’s squad as he graduated only one senior from last year’s team. “As a team, we always want to perform better than the last time we go out and compete. If we can make constant improvement on the court, the kids will make improvements after they leave Milford High School. This season, we jump to the North in the Henlopen Conference and play against some tough Division I competition. The benefit for us is that our schedule really doesn’t change much, and we only lost one senior, Sam (Rauch) who helped us out a lot last year.”
Worley believes that with the number of returning player, plus the addition of some new ones, the Bucs might turn a few heads this season. “I am looking at guys like Jake (Muir) and Matt (Stangl) to carry us and some returners like Jack Thode and Dominic Piper to shock some people. Last year, we had a bunch of first-year players, so we concentrated on basic tennis skills and having fun playing the game. We’re a serious team this year and I think we will shock a few schools,” Worley said. “The future of Milford tennis is bright. I have no seniors on my roster. Matt and Kevin Lin are my two oldest guys as juniors. There’s a lot to be said for guys getting varsity experience and then returning for another year, or possibly a few more years. I keep telling my guys that I am excited for this season. I’m excited by what I see in this first week of practice as some guys really put in some work in the offseason to get better. I am excited to see that hard work pay off and know that they are in for a great year.”
Milford boys will open their season hosting Cape Henlopen on March 25, with games starting at 4 p.m. The girls’ squad will be heading down to face Cape the same day. The girls’ home opener will be March 27 as they host Thomas More at 4 p.m