DEXTER — The General Brown girls tennis team has seen its share of struggles over the last couple of seasons. However, they are enjoying a strong start to the 2019 campaign.
The Lions have started the season 3-0 and are tied at the top of the Frontier League “B” Division with Copenhagen for the first time in a while. General Brown recorded only one match victory in the last two seasons.
“A lot of us have been working hard for years and we’ve been here a while,” senior first singles player Maria Covey said. “We’ve really earned this position and are happy to here.”
The “B” Division has been dominated by Lowville and Beaver River for the last decade, but General Brown and Copenhagen are off to unbeaten starts so far this season. General Brown coach Will Covey said his team is going enjoy the ride of being at the top of the division.
“(Copenhagen coach) Juli (Hebert) and I have talked to each other and Copenhagen and General Brown have a mutual alliance because we’ve been on the bottom for so long,” quipped Cover, who is in his 10th year coaching the Lions’ program. “We commiserate with each other during those bad years, so this year we’re feeling pretty good.”
The team is off to its fast start with a crop of players new to the sport. Players like second singles standout and junior Willow Boyce picked up the sport at the urging of others and coach Covey.
“Mr. Covey said it would be fun and that I’d do well at it,” Boyce said. “My friends were doing it to, so I decided to give it a try.”
Players like Boyce and Covey dedicated extra practice time in the summer to hone their skills. Many of the Lions players played twice a week at Watertown High School in offseason sessions.
“We did tennis there the entire summer to work on our shots,” Maria Covey said.
Most of the victories have not been easy as General Brown has scratched out 3-2 wins against Beaver River, Carthage and Lowville. Despite the relative lack of experience, they’ve been able to close out matches.
“Tennis is a very mental game and they’ve had their struggles, but they’ve been buckling down and not cracking under the pressure,” Coach Covey said.
General Brown also has a familiar face as an assistant coach. Former Lions first singles star Krysta Stupp is helping the team and becoming a full-fledged tennis coach. Stupp was a decorated player who won the “B” Division first singles crown the last three seasons.
“She’s put in a lot of hours becoming certified to be a coach at the high school level and she’s working on some other certifications,” Coach Covey said. “It’s good to see her continuing with the school she graduated at.”
The Lions are looking forward to Saturday’s “B” Division tournament that is scheduled to take place at Carthage.
General Brown finished third the last three seasons but is relishing the chance at getting a team tournament crown.
“It’s going to be my first year playing in the Frontier League tournament and I’m super excited to see how that’s going to go,” Boyce said. “Hopefully we can go for that title and win it.”
General Brown also hopes to qualify for the team sectionals that start Oct. 15. The Lions know they’ll be tested against the Syracuse area schools that practice year-round thanks to access to indoor tennis facilities. However, they’re welcoming that opportunity.
“I can’t wait to see how we do against them,” Boyce said. “I know we can do it, but we just need the right mind-set and we’ve got that.”
General Brown will look to qualify players for the individual sectional tournament that will run Oct. 22-24 at Drumlins Tennis Club in Syracuse.