Young Oakwood team tallying tennis wins

Lily McCloskey, Oakwood tennis

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Lily McCloskey, Oakwood tennis

Young but talented, the Oakwood girls tennis team is making a habit of winning.

The Jills – with four or more freshmen regularly in the varsity lineup – opened the season with an 8-0 record. Freshmen Lily McCloskey and Natalie Connelly, at first and second singles, have posted identical perfect records. And sophomores Sophie Schnell and Sidney Purks are 7-0 at first doubles.

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“We are very young, but very talented,” coach K.C. Weaver said. “They are solid players, consistent. They have a lot of tennis under their belt.”

Graduating four starters might pose a problem for some teams, but the young Oakwood squad has responded to the challenge.

“I’m refining instead of rebuilding,” Weaver said.

McCloskey, 15, has taken on the role of No. 1 singles with enthusiasm, determination and, admittedly, a little nervousness.

“I’ve been ‘nervous-cited,’” she said with a smile. “But everyone on the team has been really supportive.”

It’s the team aspect that McCloskey – who has been playing tennis since she was 6 – most enjoys.

“We do fun stuff together, a lot of team bonding,” she said. “And I know they are there for me, it makes it more enjoyable.”

That’s not to say there isn’t pressure as McCloskey faces the best player on every team the Jills face. Weaver has seen her rise to the occasion match after match, not dropping a single set.

“Lily is an all-around solid player who is consistent and smart,” he said. “She’s very mentally tough and she loves the game.”

And as much as McCloskey wants to continue to compile individual wins, she is more focused on team success than personal accomplishments.

“We want to win the SWBL (Southwestern Buckeye League),” she said. “I want to do my part to make that happen.”

While Oakwood has dominated the league in years past, Bellbrook has had SWBL bragging rights since 2013. Weaver, likewise, would like to see that change and is hopeful that this is the team to do it.

“This is a totally different team from last year,” he said. “I’m not messing with technique, I’m helping with strategy and preparation. The rest is up to them.”

Oakwood next plays host to Eaton on Thursday at the Old River Sports Complex.

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