(Red Oak) — The Red Oak girls enter the 2022 tennis season eager to build off last year’s successes that came in the first year of the Zoey Baker era.
“We’re excited,” Baker said. “We have more girls and boys that added to our team this year, which is exciting. With the success of last season, everyone is ready to get back out there and keep playing tennis.”
The weather has made it difficult to play tennis outside, but Baker’s team has been able to play indoors at the Montgomery County YMCA.
“I know a lot of the girls and boys played on Sundays in the offseason,” she said. “We have a lot of programs, so being able to hit has been great.”
The year-round dedication to the sport is part of the reason Red Oak traditionally has success on the tennis courts.
“It makes my job so much easier,” Baker said. “It makes me so proud to have athletes that want to put in that time outside of the season. I feel lucky to have a team that is willing to go above and beyond.”
The Tigers were a formidable dual team in 2021, qualifying for the Class 1A State Team Tournament.
“Them finishing out strong was important,” Baker said. “They wanted to prove that we are still the Red Oak team that has always been successful. I think that’s what made last year so special.”
The Tigers return a handful of contributors from last year’s team, led by sophomore Merced Ramirez — a returning state qualifier. Tessa Rolenc, Anna Grizzard and Jessica Lukehart also return after contributing to last year’s state qualifying team.
“We lost three seniors, but we have a lot coming back,” Baker said. “I think those four can lead and guide. I think seeing the process of having success makes the team more mentally tough, and that’s part of playing tennis. Having leaders that understand that success and pressure is exciting.”
Coach Baker’s team grew last season. She hopes for similar results this year.
“I hope they grow as players,” she said. “That’s always the biggest goal. I hope we have the success we did last year. But other teams have talented players come back. We hope to stand up to the challenge and work as a team to have the success we had last year.”
Check out the full interview with Coach Baker below.