A fresh start: Jaguars have new lineup, new courts
Blue Springs South girls tennis coach Jakob Estep and his assistant Nathan Mooney were in midseason form early Tuesday morning as they conducted a series of drills with the Jaguars.
As clouds formed and temperatures dropped, the new blue and green tennis courts at Young Park, just north of the high school, served as the perfect backdrop for the second day of team practice.
“I’m going to enjoy every minute of this,” said senior Ella Weir, who will move up to varsity this season from her No. 1 junior varsity spot last fall. “Looking back, maybe I took the last three years for granted because I love tennis and our girls so much, I never imagined we might not have a senior year.
“Now, with all the COVID-19 talk, who knows. I hope we have a season – everyone is hoping we have a season – but whatever happens, we’re going to enjoy every minute of practice.”
Senior teammate Natalie Nelson, who was No. 5 varsity singles last year, agrees.
“I’m out here with my girls, what could be better?” Nelson said. “This is great. We have the new courts – which are beautiful – and we’re playing tennis. We all hope we have a season, and even if it’s a modified, shorter season, I just hope we get to play.
“We all hated what happened with the boys last spring, not being able to play, especially our seniors. And Ella and I are seniors, so this is the year we’ve been looking forward to for a long time, so we’ll see what happens.”
After hitting hundreds of balls to their players, Estep and Mooney praised their team and their new surroundings.
“What about these new courts – blue and green!” Estep said, referring to the fact that they match Blue Springs South’s colors. “It’s just so great to be back, and our girls are working so hard. Ella and Natalie are going to be leaders on the team, and we’re going to need leaders to develop because we lost our 1-2-3 singles players.”
Mooney then adds, “And they were our 1-2-3 singles players the last three years, but it’s exciting to work with a new group of girls to see how they develop and what type of team we have this year.”
Mooney just shook his head when asked about losing out on the Jaguars’ spring boys season.
“We never had any closure, and that’s what I hear our girls talk about, is closure,” Mooney said. “We all hope we have sports in the fall, but if for some reason we don’t, the girls have this time together for some camaraderie and closure and that’s so important.”
Estep said the new-look Jaguars have been fun to coach.
“These girls are just so excited to be back, to be practicing and to be able to see each other in person,” Estep said. “Nathan and I feel like we’re working with some of the best kids in our school.
“These girls care so much about tennis and each other and they’re working hard. Now, we just have to hope all that work pays off during a fall tennis season.”