By Sean Neary –
“I just love how tennis is a sport where it’s all in your shoulders,” Varsity Girls Tennis player Paige Roach said. “You control how your game goes and how it doesn’t.” Roach has been playing tennis her whole life, but only competitively since she started at Lincoln High freshman year. This is her second year on varsity. “It seems like there is a lot of individualism in it, because you’re by yourself or you do doubles, but, especially this year, there’s a sense of having teammates, so I kind of like that environment to have both,” Varsity Girls Tennis player April Inamura said.
Inamura is a junior and has been playing with Lincoln High since freshman year. This is her second year on varsity. “I played tennis a little bit in middle school around seventh grade with my dad, and I think I took one session of actual Woods lessons in eighth grade, but I’ve always kind of wanted to do it, so in high school they gave me a chance,” Inamura said. “I really like being able to get in the zone, and not being, especially part of a team to win, or to compete for something, but to work hard and to get better at it,” Higgins said.
Higgins has played tennis for a long time before high school and has been on the tennis team since freshman year. This is her second year on varsity. “We opened the season with a 7-2 victory over Omaha Central and have losses to Southeast and Beatrice,” Varsity Coach Kevin James said. “We have some stronger players this year,” Varsity Junior Tennis Player April Inamura said. “I really like being part of the team,” Varsity Junior Tennis Player Clara Higgins said. “I played tennis a long time before high school, but I really like the team aspect of tennis at Lincoln High.” Higgins also added that she really loves the other girls on the team because they are responsible and respect each other and there’s no drama.
“Girls [LHS tennis players] continue to work very hard and are doing great with only two returning starters, Clara Higgins and Paige Roach,” James said. “Our goal is to place in the top 15 at state, which we have done the past two years.” In addition to the main goal, girls have their own personal goals. “To be able to not lose most points with getting serves out,” Inamura said. “I have a stroke that has some power, so my goal is to be able to get it in more.” “To get a stronger serve and to be more consistent with ground strokes,” Varsity Senior Tennis Player Paige Roach said.
“This season, I would like to strive to be a better match player, and not just good at skills, to be better at playing matches,” Higgins said. Higgins and Inamura are doing well at meeting their goals. However, Roach said that she’s gotten off to a rocky start, but she’s getting better. The girls said that, as a team, they want to work hard, do the best that they can, keep a positive attitude if they lose, and get closer. “I really want us to support each other, and, if we lose, no matter what, be a supportive team,” Higgins said. The girls all think that the team is very positive and well-bonded. “The season did just start, but we’re all really close and we treat each other like sisters,” Roach said. “We win together and lose together.”
One thing that’s helping the girls stay close is the new team dinners. The first one was hosted by their coach in the athletic conference room, but they will start having them at people’s homes. Like every team, the LHS Girls’ Tennis Team has good moments together. “We all get pretty funny tan lines,” Roach said. “Coach James has a racoon tanline now. It’s all really funny.” “So far this year, I’ve accidentally hit a lot of my teammates with tennis balls,” Inamura said. “I didn’t mean to, but sometimes it kind of lands on them.” Higgins added that another neat thing about her experience on the tennis team is that, when she was a freshman, she was mentored by upperclassmen, and now, as an upperclassman, she is able to mentor the freshmen. “I love tennis, and I think it’s a great way to end the year, especially this year, my senior year,” Roach said. “I enjoy most being around these student athletes,” James said. “They are great kids and I want to make sure they enjoy playing a lifetime sport.”