Wet weather may have dampened the atmosphere of the crowd - many of whom headed for covered shelter - but it didn't stop the nearly 40 participants from competing in their first tennis meet of the year last Tuesday at Lawrence High.
West, South and Washburn Rural junior high schools battled it out on the courts, but the competition was somewhat subdued by the rainy conditions and the style of the meet.
"It's kind of a practice meet," said West tennis coach Laura Smysor. "We've had just a handful of practices."
The same could be said for the South squad.
They began practice before spring break and first-year participant Tor Fornelli competed in his first match ever. He said he enjoyed playing his first tennis match in the rain, and noted that the wet weather didn't bother him. In fact, he said it made him a little bit more at ease.
"It was fun," Fornelli said. "It was relaxed."
But Fornelli faced some tough competition when he paired up with teammate Byron Varberg and competed against West's top doubles tandem of Andrew Craig and Will Martin.
While Fornelli and Varberg put forth a solid effort, they were no match for the two West players and lost, 6-2.
"We've got a lot of new kids," Smysor said. "Last year I had a big ninth-grade class that has moved up to high school, so now we have a lot of new faces. But we got some pretty good kids, so I think we'll be OK."
Smysor said West has about 25 kids out for tennis this year, and have only two courts to practice on, so they have been practicing at the Lawrence Country Club. She said if they couldn't practice there, they may not have been able to have a season. She said their goals are not totally win-oriented, but rather having the opportunity to play the game on a regular basis.
"For us, it's just making sure everyone on the team gets to play several matches," she said.
Smysor said that her team, like many others, was made up of players with different skill levels. But she was really impressed with the kids who played last year and put for the time and effort to improve their skills over the summer and fall, which she hopes will translate into success, both individually and for the squad.
"The thing that's kind of neat is you don't really think of tennis as a team sport," Smysor said. "But it really is because they all cheer for each other and it gets to be a pretty good deal because they're all making good friends. It's a fun time."