Members of Riverside Middle School's boys and girls tennis teams have never lost a match while playing for the school. The teams were started five years ago.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Riverside Middle School tennis teams finished their fifth season last fall, but the buzz hasn't faded.
The Eagles have attained a standard of excellence that amazes everyone, including their coach.
"The more you hear about it, the more unreal it is," John Eckenroth said.
Since the school started its tennis program, Riverside has never lost a match to any middle-school team.
Still, what Riverside did this past season is hard to fathom.
The Eagles soared to an 8-0 record, and the dominance was complete, as Riverside went 65-0 in sets and outscored its opponents 688 to 87 in games.
"It's almost like a tradition, and they pick it up and carry it on," said Eckenroth, who was assisted by Coach Alicia Stephenson.
Riverside featured several players who are ranked on the junior tennis circuit, and though the team was never challenged in a match, the players were still driven to excel and lead the Eagles to the top.
"Ever since I was really small I wanted to play on a tennis team," sixth-grader Elizabeth Pugh said. "We worked hard, had fun and won all of our matches."
The secret to success, according to top singles player Karah Koellner, was, "We practice a lot and we cooperate together."
Eckenroth gave his players all the credit. "First of all, they don't have any kind of tennis coaching here," he said. "I'm terrible. I am just blessed to have a super group of kids and parents who care."
The Riverside tennis players are not only excellent athletes, they are standouts in the classroom, too - 25 of 28 team members earned a place on the first RMS academic honor roll for the 2003-04 school year.
In the off-season, Riverside forms a club team and competes against area private schools. Also, the players spend much of their free time on the court honing their strokes.
"They have a commitment to whatever they're going to do," Eckenroth said. "They want to do it right and do it well. How many places do you see these kind of kids that can do this stuff?"
Riverside Middle School Tennis Team Rosters
Boys: Spencer Hitchins; Kenneth Mooney; Alex King; Mitchell Hauff; Hunter Polatty; Austin Coleman; Parker LaSure; Zack Renew; Dan Pique; Win Clark; Evan Mulloy; Chase Duff.
Girls: Karah Koellner; Elizabeth Pugh; Ali Seigler; Allie Howard; Carolyn Granade; Lauren Plowman; Kayla Barksdale; Mega Jha; Emily Floyd; Katherine Herman; Brittany Holman; Lauren Beck; Meredith Johnson; Hema Kondur; Meagan McGahee; Aarthi Murugappen.
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