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Yellowjackets start tennis season strong

March 1, 2012

The Starkville High School tennis team opened the season in style Thursday afternoon.

The Yellowjackets beat Hillcrest, Ala., 4-3 in the first ever "Cowbell Match" at the Starkville High School tennis courts.

Jaguar head coach Brad Armstrong presented Jacket coach Rob Fyke with a cowbell after the match.

The teams hope to keep this rivalry going.

"Competition," Fyke said about playing Hillcrest. "We wanted to get a competitive match against a team that will tell us what we are made of. The teams around here that could do that we already had on the schedule and some of them are in district, so we thought it would be a no lose situation to get this going with an Alabama team."

The match was also a good way for Fyke and his players to gauge how preseason practice went and what to expect the rest of the year.

"It went well," Fyke said of the match. "This was a match that we were trying to get all the kids entered into the season properly. It accomplished that and on top of that, we won the match. Gave them some confidence going into the season. Good all the way around; weather was good and couldn't ask for anything better."

Lewis Maynard was the only boy to win for the Yellowjackets. He won 6-4, 6-1 in singles action.

Maynard has stood out in practice and Fyke wasn't surprised he gave them a point.

"From our boys, we have some good senior leadership in Brian Xu and Lewis Maynard," Fyke said. "They have stood out at practice. We are real deep on the boys' side. We have eight boys that could legitimately play competitive varsity tennis."

On the girls side, Emily Turner won 6-3, 6-0 in singles play, Hannah Laird and Dasha Bondarenko won 6-1, 6-2 in girls doubles action and Ashley Albritton and Christine Mazzola won 6-0, 6-2 in the other girls' doubles match.

"We have two girls that are elite players, Emily Turner and Hannah Laird," Fyke said. "They stand out at practice. We expect wherever Emily and Hannah are we will win."

For Albritton and Mazzola, playing together is not something new for them. They have been partners for a while and Fyke wasn't shocked to see them win.

"Ashley Albritton and Christine Mazzola have been playing doubles together for three years now," Fyke said. "In most cases, we expect them to get us a win."

For the other spots, mixing and matching will be Fyke's style for the early part in the year. He is looking to find the best recipe by doing this.

"For the rest of the spots, we are going to move them around the next three weeks trying to get us the strongest line up," Fyke said. "It just depends on how we match it and where they're at."

As for where Fyke wants his team to be at the end of the season, it is where most teams want to be.

"We are a competitive team and we want to compete for a state championship," Fyke said. "Oxford will be the big hurdle."

The Jackets will be back in action today when they host French Camp at 3:30 p.m.

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