It’s definitely a new year in Pembroke.
The tennis team at Bryan County High School is entering a new region and a higher classification this spring. They’re also under the leadership of a new coach, Inga Cashon.
Make that a brand-new coach. Cashon, who has taught engineering and technology at BCHS for years, has never coached a high school sport. But as a former high school tennis player at Pinewood Christian Academy, she’s looking forward to the challenge.
"I want to be able to teach my athletes sportsmanship, the importance of a strong work ethic, and the importance of team work and responsibilities," Cashon said. "As long as the athletes I coach try and have a good spirit, that is what is important to me as a coach."
She also wants them to have fun and acknowledged she’s learning on the go.
"It’s a new experience," Cashon said. "So far, it’s been a lot of fun."
The Redskins already have one win under their belt, but fell 5-0, 5-0 to Region 2-AA power Jeff Davis last week. The learning curve could be steep as Bryan County gets into its region schedule and Cashon has no illusions about what her program faces in 2-AA, so her team is using its first season as a measuring stick to see where it is and where it has to go.
"We want to see what the other teams in the region have to offer, see what we’re up against," she said. "We want to gauge their skills and techniques and see what we can do to get better."
She lauded the play of senior Janki Patel, the girls’ No. 1 singles player, and Bradley Hoover, the boys’ No. 1 singles player.
Both have been playing since ninth grade and both, along with first-year player Lance Smith, a senior doubles player, have performed well so far, Cashon said.
The girls’ team also includes Alexis Smith at No. 2 singles and Opal Warren at No. 3 singles, while Alana Walker and Melissa Campbell are No. 1 doubles and Marissa Hallex and Kirsten Ford are playing No. 2 doubles. On the boys’ side, Jay Patel is at No. 2 singles and Jeffrey Covington is playing No. 3 singles. Smith has teamed with Cody Natvik at No. 1 doubles with Jordan Crosby and Coby Herndon at No. 2 doubles.
Josey Denmark is the manager. Laura Blair is the assistant coach.
"They’ve all stepped up and helped me … and the older players have helped the younger ones and the inexperienced players," Cashon said, noting she took over the program after former tennis coach Karen Lynn became an assistant on the soccer team.
"I wanted to give it a try," Cashon said. "Of all the sports I’ve played, it’s my favorite and I still play as a hobby, so I wanted to see what I could do."
Thursday Toombs County at BCHS, 4 p.m.
March 14 at Bacon County, 4 p.m.
March 18 Calvary Day at BCHS, 4 p.m.
March 19 Metter at BCHS, 4 p.m.
March 21 Claxton at BCHS, 4 p.m.
March 26 St. Vincent’s/Benedictine at BCHS, 4 p.m.
March 28 Vidalia at VCHS, 4 p.m.