Dwayne Merritt was getting his girls and boys tennis teams at Ripley High School closer and closer to opening up the 2020 season.
And then…the stoppage occurred.
Merritt, like all other spring coaches, is keeping his head up and hoping he will get to return with his two teams and enjoy some type of season.
Before the season was halted due to the coronavirus, Merritt, who was in his third season of guiding the two tennis teams at Ripley High, had been working with a girls team of 12 players and a boys squad of six.
“It’s been a tough time for everyone involved,” said Merritt. “We just hope all of the kids can get in some type of spring sports season.”
Merritt, a 1982 Ripley High graduate and former football standout, is remaining positive through it all.
On his girls squad of 12 only one of the players was a senior – Andera Greupera, a foreign exchange student from Spain.
“She has gone back home. It was really a shame. She was enjoying the experience of learning the game,” said Merritt.
The junior class consists of three players.
“Lauren Roush is coming off basketball. She’s a good athlete and a good competitor,” said Merritt.
“Aubrey Stephens is doing both tennis and track. She was a first-year player last year. She’s shown great improvement,” Merritt said.
“Era Easterling is a second-year player. She had never picked up a racquet until last year.”
The sophomore class is seven-storng.
“Toryn Scholl was projected to be our No. 1 seed in singles. She had a good offseason and was progressing in her game,” said Merritt.
“Annie Pierson was projected to be in one of the top four spots (for singles) and a doubles player,” said Merritt.
“Rory Holmes was projected to be in the top four. She had a good offseason,” he said.
Ali Weyer had spent a lot of the preseason battling injury and illness.
Bree Miller, Lillith Parsons and Emily Webb were all first year players.
Two freshmen dot the Lady Viking roster in Jacquelyn Perkey and Isabella Bottini.
Merritt said Perkey was was battling for one of the four singles spots and on one of the three doubles teams while Bottini was vying for a doubles position.
Megan Barnette and Brooke Hatcher graduated off of last year’s team.
As far as the Viking boys are concerned, Tobias Scholl, a senior, returns to take over the No. 1 singles position. Scholl enjoyed success on the basketball court this past season and was looking to transfer it over to the tennis court.
Caleb Bailey, last year’s No. 1 player and a Class State Tournament qualifier, graduated.
“Coming out of basketball, Tobias is just a quiet, hard competitor. He’s just a good athlete and very coachable,” Merritt said.
Another senior is Isaac Robertson, who was also one of the keys to Ripley’s winning season in basketball.
“He’s a first-year player,” said Merritt. “He’s a really good athlete. He was showing he could pick up the tennis skills quickly.”
Juniors are Jarrett Lough and Mani Harrah.
Of Lough, Merritt said, “He’s a returning player and worked at his game and shown improvement from last year.”
Merritt said of Harrah, “He continues to show improvement.”
The sophomores are Carter Cochran and Cole Neal.
“Carter is a first-year player and he’s just flat-out a good athlete,” Merritt said. “Cole is a first-year player and is also doing track. He was staying busy with both.”