|Tornadoes reach into past for tennis coach |
|Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 6:14 am |
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
The Union City High School tennis program is turning to one of its own to hopefully restore its once-proud tradition.
Elizabeth Mooney, a 2002 UCHS graduate who played in and won a state tournament match her sophomore year, will take over the reins of both the girls’ and boys’ Tornado net fortunes next spring.
She hopes to lead the program back to prominence — a status it enjoyed throughout the better part of two decades in the 1980s and ’90s in rural West Tennessee.
Union City, which won countless district and regional team championships during the aforementioned time of dominance, more recently has not measured up to those lofty standards. The Twisters last sent players to state-level competition in 2001.
Getting back to the Spring Fling is Mooney’s No. 1 priority.
“That’s my ultimate goal, for Union City to make it back to the state tournament,” said the 27-year-old Mooney, who was a member of back-to-back Lady Tornado state runner-up teams to Chattanooga Christian Academy in 1999 and 2000.
“I want to get the program back to the level where it once was.”
Mooney will step in for Jason Deem, who piloted both programs each of the last three years and finished with an overall 30-34 combined record during that time. UC was 6-6 in girls’ play and 5-5 on the boys’ side this past spring.
The new coach believes the pieces are in place for the locals to again be among the better programs in the area. She said she’ll encourage tutoring from other instructors — both within and outside the area — and promote playing as much as possible in both team and individual settings.
“We have a great support system at Union City, and there are people who want to see the program do well,” added Mooney, who still plays a regular schedule herself in various leagues. “Attitudes are contagious, and I hope mine and the passion I have for the sport carries over to the kids and our community.
“It’s always special to be able to come back to your alma mater. This is my team and my school. And it means a lot to me.”
UCHS Principal Wes Kennedy said Mooney’s enthusiasm will be infectious.
“I think the kids who want to play will gravitate toward her because of her love of the sport,” the Tornado administrator said. “Her passion is obvious, and I believe there’ll be a carryover to the kids who play for her.
“I’m excited about the energy she’ll bring to the program.”
Mooney will student teach and complete work on her master’s degree in education from UT Martin this fall, and likely substitute in the Union City School system, beginning in January. She already has an undergraduate degree from The University of Tennessee.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 6.29.10