Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The Chickasha High School tennis teams sent eight players to the state tourney last season, four boys and four girls.
The Chicks have a chance to send some more players to state this year, but their biggest obstacles are small numbers and inexperience.
This year's teams include six boys and seven girls.
"When you only take six [players] and you only have six to choose from, there is no competition and no threat of losing your spot, so you've got to find new ways to inspire everybody to work hard," head coach Dustin Belden said.
At this early point in the year, Belden said he has told his players not to judge themselves based on wins and losses.
"My goal for success is, when we pulled up in the parking lot this morning, are you better now than you were when we pulled up," Belden said. "Our goal right now is to get ready for regionals. If you can improve every day then we have a chance."
The Chickasha teams graduated four players each from the boys and girls squads, and only has two boys and two girls with significant experience.
Noel Avila and Kyle Woodard return for the boys, and Melody Outhaithavy and Lupita Maldonado are back for the girls. Avila, Outhaithavy and Maldonado all played at state last season.
Belden said the junior high tennis team numbers are down as well, but the youth program has increased over the last few years, giving some promise to the future of the program.
"We're going to have to, for the next four years or so, is dig kids out of the woodwork until these kids start coming up," Belden said. "If we can hold out three or four years until they get up here, we'll be stacked."