BULLARD — The Bullard High School tennis team has gotten off to a rough start in the 2006 season, but that’s not because of their opponents. Weather has caused BHS to cancel multiple tournaments limiting their playing time and practice time.

BHS head coach Tammy Rooney remains positive through all of the cancellations because from what she has seen in the few matches BHS has played, her team will be strong.

“They’re going to be excellent this year,” Rooney said. “They’re doing great.

“We have been combating the weather. I have been real stingy with my dual matches because last year I was going everywhere. This year, I said, ‘no more.’ I added tournaments, but then we got rained out.”

Six seniors lead the team, which gives BHS experience and leadership on the court.

“I’m really going to hate losing those six seniors next year,” Rooney said. “They come out and help me with the junior high tennis team and that’s a good thing.

“I have junior high practice right after school until about 4:10 or 4:15 p.m., then the high schoolers get the court. If they come out early, they help me because it’s just me and usually the courts are full of kids.”

Because Rooney is the only BHS tennis coach, she gets to develop players as they move through middle school and into high school. That time allows her to build relationships, as well as evaluate her current and future players.

“Josh Martin, he’s a seventh grader,” Rooney said as she pointed to a boy on the court next to her, “he’s a good little player.

“We’ve got Chris Braaten, who’s an eighth grader, and he is going to be a whale of a player.”

Rooney’s players compete in singles matches and doubles matches, which gives them the opportunity to try different styles of play. This season, the University Interscholastic League also incorporated mixed doubles play for the spring tennis season.

“My kids love singles (play),” Rooney said. “They don’t ever practice doubles.

“This year they have added mixed doubles, so we will have a guy/girl team, and that will be something new.”

Rooney said she lost one player, Michael Parker, already this season because he moved. Rooney said the loss of Parker, who took first place in the singles event at the Lindale Tournament, hurts her team, but there are other players who can step up.

“Michael Parker would be a ticket to regionals, but he moved to Mississippi,” Rooney said. “Bryan Smith has promise, and Kevin Weaver and Jacob Martin are good players, so we’re looking pretty good.”

Smith and Weaver combined to take second place in the doubles competition at the Lindale Tournament.

Rooney is also expecting big things from sophomore Amber Braaten. Braaten took third place at the Lindale Tournament.

“Her opponent was a freshmen from Winona, who is a Super Champ,” Rooney said. “Amber had to play her and she got an awakening, but she did come out third.”

Rooney said she is looking forward to the remainder of the season and that she expects her kids to play well.

BHS played at All-Saints Friday. Results of the meet were not available as of press time.

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