Murray High School girls tennis players stay active and improve
Oct 04, 2017 09:42AM
● By Carl Fauver
These seniors are playing their final season as members of the MHS girls tennis team. (Andrea Perschon)
Girls Tennis [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
The Murray High School girls tennis team just wrapped up its regular season last week, with only the state finals still ahead (October 5-6) for those who qualified. At press time it wasn’t known how many girls advanced. But Head Coach Andrea Perschon, Assistant Coach Michael Pond and the athletes were all brimming with cautious optimism.
“I think we can do well this year,” Perschon said. “But the new region is likely to be much more difficult.”
Sharing the same opinion as several other Murray High School coaches, Perschon believes the addition of Salt Lake District Schools East, Highland and West in their region makes it more difficult for the Murray girls to qualify for the 5A state finals. But, she said, the team has worked hard and has enjoyed a fun season, regardless of the final outcome.
Perschon is wrapping up her second year as coach of the Murray boys and girls tennis teams, after taking over the program in January of 2016. But her experience as a coach goes back many years further.
“I’ve been director of the Murray Parks and Recreation tennis program since 2002,” Perschon added. “About half of these girls (on the current team) came up through that program. So I have known them for years.”
In fact, one of the captains on last year’s girls team (Grace Maycock, who graduated four months ago) began working with coach Perschon at age five.
One of this year’s team captains, senior Sophie Richmond, also wasn’t much older than that when Perschon began teaching her the sport.
“I must have been about nine years old when I began taking tennis lessons through the Murray Parks program,” Richmond said. “(Coach Perschon) is great. She has such a strong passion for the game. I was comfortable working with her from the very beginning.”
Richmond is playing this fall on Murray’s No. 1 doubles team, partnered with the team’s other captain, senior Abby Mitchell. They are two of seven seniors on the squad.
“I qualified for the state finals with a doubles partner two years ago, but didn’t quite get there last year,” Mitchell said. “So that’s our top goal this season. Plus, we want the entire team to do well.”
Other key players on this year’s Murray team include seniors Jacque Cropp and Meagan West.
A 1980 graduate of Murray High herself, Perschon says the boys and girls tennis teams had fallen on some lean times before she was asked to take over.
“As much as anything, I think I’ve helped give the players a little more confidence,” she said. “The first year I took over, we doubled the size of both teams.”
In the two seasons she’s coached the Murray boys tennis team, more than half of the varsity players (three of seven in 2015 and five of seven last spring) qualified for the state tournament.
On the girls’ side, three of seven qualified for the state finals last year.
Perschon said, besides teaching kids how to play good tennis, another of her top priorities is to teach parents the sport can be affordable.
“I am a big advocate for lower income families,” Perschon said. “Parents don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for shoes or tennis rackets for their kids to be good at this sport. They also don’t need to spend a fortune on tennis lessons.”
Perschon said one of the reasons she has remained involved with the Murray Parks and Recreation program is that the administrators have agreed with her to keep it affordable.
“I remember once I had a player whose parents thought a switch to a much more expensive program would be a step forward,” she said. “After a few months they came back and said, ‘The more expensive instructors weren’t any better.’ I’m glad they felt that way.”
The entire Murray girls tennis team consists of about two dozen girls, including two 9th graders.
“Only seven girls compete for the varsity at each match (1st, 2nd and 3rd singles, along with 1st and 2nd doubles teams),” Perschon said. “But every girl gets to play at each meet. When the varsity players are done, the junior varsity goes. After that we have exhibition matches. So the girls are always staying active and getting a chance to improve.”