Wolverines Girls Tennis brings in many fresh faces this season

The Wolverines Girls’ Tennis Team begins their 7th season under the direction of Kevin Cullen. This year’s team is comprised of 25 players, a majority being 9th and 10th graders, with 16 brand new to the team. After the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the remodeling of the school’s tennis courts, Cullen is enthusiastic about continuing to rebuild the team and invest in new talent while fine tuning his experienced athletes.

Cullen first began his tennis coaching career eight years ago, when he took the position two weeks before the season began. Originally a soccer coach for the school, he was recommended for the position when the position suddenly became vacant.

“They had a group of girls [for the team] and no coach, so I just stepped in and learned,” said Cullen.

The girls’ tennis program has been greatly impacted by different circumstances, beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic which canceled the spring season in 2020 and shortened the following season by moving the team’s matches to the fall. In 2022, the remodeling of the school’s tennis courts was not finished in time for the spring season, and the team graciously accepted the offer to practice at the San Juan Country Club. However, the country club only has two tennis courts, which was not ideal for a school tennis team. Since then, Cullen has been building the team back up after losing many senior players and utilizing the remodeled courts, and he is excited to have so many fresh faces this season.

One of the goals that Cullen has for this team is to develop more singles players. With the top two singles players having graduated last year, Cullen hopes to coach some of the underclassmen onto the singles team and looks forward to seeing their skills develop in the coming years. In addition, Cullen anticipates good things from his doubles players this year, having taken the top ranked doubles team to state last season.

Junior Kira Clark, one half of the state-qualifying doubles team, did not have much experience playing tennis before joining the team last year.

“I heard good things about the team,” said Clark. “I heard that anybody could play no matter your skill level, and so I thought it’d be good to try.”

Despite her newness to the sport, Clark and her teammate, Megan Mellinger, did exceptionally well, placing first in the district’s tournament last year. This year, Clark hopes to make it to state again with her partner, and their goals have evolved from focusing on getting the ball over the net to working on their aim and strategy. She also looks forward to seeing how the new players will develop this season.

“I’m excited to see how everybody improves. Our two singles players last year were seniors, so I’m excited to see who play singles this year and see how far they can go,” said Clark.

The Wolverines will play Coupville a number of times this season as their main competitor in the 2B league, but they will also have a few matches against a larger schools and private schools such as Granite Falls, South Whidby and The Bush School. Cullen believes these schools have strong programs that offer a good challenge for the FHHS tennis team, including battling through adversity and making their serves count when they are behind on points.

With the possibility of Coupville having their tennis courts redone this year, the FHHS girls tennis team might have a number of home matches this season for the community to come out and give their support.