Jacksonville Daily Progress
Jacksonville High School's Frances White Tennis Complex will be hosting the District 16-4A Tournament beginning today and wrapping up with the championship matches Saturday morning.
The tourney will determine the circuit's representatives into the upcoming regional championship.
And while Jacksonville head tennis coach David Hanna is optimistic towards his team's chances of having success, he will also be coping with the emotions of seeing the end of senior Ellie Day's storied Tribe tennis career come to a close.
Day is the last of five Day children that have played for Hanna, so regardless of the results Ellie Day produces in the tournament, Hanna will probably be leaving the courts Saturday with a bit of a lump in his throat, and rightfully so.
“Ellie is the last of the five Day siblings that have played for me,” Hanna stated as he monitored practice on Wednesday afternoon. “Ellie has had a great career. As a freshman she finished second in singles and went on to regionals, as a sophomore Ellie was first in mixed doubles and, again, went to regionals and last year she earned the singles titles, and represented Jacksonville in the regional tournament. So, yes, I will be sad to see her leave.”
Ellie Day has followed Addison, Robby, Katy and Mercer Day and though she is the youngest of the Day bunch, she certainly has left her own mark on Tribe tennis; a mark that want easily fade.
“I know that it is important to Ellie to try to repeat as distinct singles champion and to close out her career at Jacksonville with a bang,” Hanna said. “IF she repeats as district champion, she will equal Mercer's accomplishments.”
Mercer Day earned regional berths in each of his four seasons as a member of the Tribe tennis team, including nabbing district singles championships in each of his final-three seasons.
Katy Day also produced big dividends for the Tribe, having garnered regional appearances in three of her four seasons at Jacksonville, according to Hanna.
Ellie Day summed up her feelings about the situation this way.
“I wish I had a younger sibling to pass it along to them, but I don't, so I will have to focus on leaving with a bang so my older siblings will be proud of me,” Ellie Day said. “I just want to end well and I want to what the Day's always do and that is to do the best I can; that's really the most important thing.”
Ellie Day said that although she has won multiple district titles, there still will be pressure (and butterflies) when tournament play opens.
“I'm always nervous before the district tournament or regionals,” she said. “But, I'm really excited about the chances that our girls have and I hope that we are able to win the girl’s (first place) medal again.”
Ellie Day has achieved so much during her days as a member of the Tribe tennis team that one could possibly think that it would be difficult for her to put her finger on a single best memory.
Without question, there was no doubt in Miss Day's mind what her primary memory was.
“Playing as a freshman with my brother Mercer,” Ellie Day said. “It was a lot of fun to be able to play varsity tennis with one of my siblings.”
Hanna said that he is expecting big things from his team at the district meet.
“I like our chances,” he said. “I really am looking for our girls to repeat as district champions and our boys want to improve at district over what they did last year.
“I think the key is if our No. 2 players can step up and hold their own and get us some points, that we will be ok.”
Hanna said that he believes Corsicana is the per-tournament favorite, but after that Whitehouse, Nacogdoches, Lindale and Jacksonville are all fairly evenly matched.
Christian Roper, Tribe tennis senior captain, shared his thoughts on the boys' chances.
“Our guys are definitely young; we only have two seniors,” Roper said. “Our guys have been working hard and I think that we will have a good showing.”
Roper said that the play of one of his teammates has been a treat to watch this season.
“Bryan De La Rosa is only a sophomore, but he has really been playing well in No. 2 singles,” Roper said. “I've been working with him a lot this spring and I predict that he will be a dominating player in the district in the future.”