MARSHALL – It’s not just about bees anymore.
“When I asked them day one if they had ever picked up a racket, they said, ‘Only to hit beehives with,'” said Madeline Trilling, coach of the newly formed Madison High tennis team.
Just a couple weeks later, Trilling said her players now appear as if they’ve been involved with the sport for years.
A lot of it comes from hard work, the coach said.
“We are literally only five or six practices later, and they have worked so hard,” said Trilling, whose players call her “Coach T.” “I’ve had to kick them off the courts multiple nights at 9 pm, and practice starts at 3:30 pm They have come so far.”
Trilling, a 2006 Madison graduate and former Lady Patriots athlete, said it has been a rewarding experience to come back to her alma mater and coach.
“Sports were so formative for me and made me the person that I am today — so it means so much to me to have the opportunity to work with our athletes now,” the coach said. “I hope to have a fraction of the impact on them that my coaches had on me when I was their age.”
The team scrimmaged Polk on March 4 and won its opening match against Avery on March 10, followed by a match at Mountain Heritage on March 16.
Trilling said she was “thrilled” after the team’s win against Avery.
“I was trying not to jump around and cheer obnoxiously because tennis is a ‘quiet sport’ — but inside the crowd is going wild,” she said. “Each match is six singles and three doubles for a total of nine games. We won six singles matches, so we won on singles alone.”
While the team is currently composed of boys, girls are eligible to join the co-ed team as well, Trilling said.
Following its scrimmage against Polk, the coach said she was taken aback at her team’s progress on the court and was looking forward to watching her team continue to build its camaraderie.
“(Polk) is one of the best, if not the best, teams that we will play,” she said. “They don’t look like Madison’s first tennis team — they have bought into something totally new, trust me and their teammates, and have worked so hard and had a lot of fun along the way. And it shows. I am so impressed with each one of them.”
Trilling said while some of her players may just now be familiarizing themselves with the sport, they are a scrappy bunch and don’t shy away from competition.
“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to coach this group and this is a sport they will take with them and play their entire lives,” she said. “We’ve got a great group of competitors and they have already improved so much. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with on the court.”
The coach said she was a big tennis fan as a child and has enjoyed coaching the players thus far.
“To be honest, I’m a big fan of any type of competition — watching or playing,” the coach said. “If there is a ball and a court, you’ll usually find me on it. And it’s awesome to see my alma mater branching out into some new areas. We have some really talented kids, and I think tennis is a great example of how they can and will rise to the occasion in anything if given the opportunity to compete.”
Trilling, a partner at law firm Scarbrough, Scarbrough & Trilling PLLC, located in Concord, said she is relieved to be back in her hometown after living with her wife in Charlotte to be closer to work.
“Obviously COVID has been a terrible thing, but it has allowed me to work remotely and my wife and I to move back home from Charlotte, where we were living and have now rented our house,” Trilling said.
“Now I get to see the mountains every morning when I wake up and coach at my former high school. So I feel I incredibly fortunate for that.”