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Blazers follow Shives' blueprint for success

June 08, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Clear Spring tennis coach Lisa Shives has seen the program come a long way over the last decade.

"We've been trying to build the program up from when we didn't even have enough kids to field a full eight-player team in 2000," Shives said. "Success breeds success and it definitely helps. It runs in cycles and we've had a good group of athletes the last couple of years."

That's an understatement.

The Blazers' girls are 31-0 in dual meets over the last two seasons, including 14-0 this year, when they won their second straight MVAL Antietam title.

Shives is The Herald-Mail's 2009 All-Area Girls Tennis Coach of the Year.

One of Shives' main coaching techniques is consistent, repetitive drill work. One day, the focus may be on forehands, the next day, backhands.

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"We don't get much into gameplay until midseason," Shives said. "I spend time on drills, try to keep them exciting."

The other focus is on playing smart tennis, and forcing the opponent to win rather than giving the opponent gift points.

"I keep trying to tell them if you can keep the ball in play one more time than your opponent, you're going to win the point," Shives said. "Sometimes kids want to put the ball away too soon and aren't patient enough. You have to set up your shot."

Shives' style certainly has gotten results:

* Seniors Sarah Dice (14-0 in singles) and Amanda Jenkins (12-1 in singles) teamed up in doubles to win their third straight Washington County Tournament title, their first Region 1 title and take third at the state tournament.

* Seniors Brittany Smetzer and Jessie Kissner went 15-4 at No. 1 doubles and finished second to Dice and Jenkins at the county tournament for the second straight year.

* Clear Spring's other two doubles teams -- Megan Crowl and Katie Blickenstaff at No. 2, and Kelsey Hovermale and Ashlyn Long at No. 3 -- each went 14-0. For an encore, Long capped her sophomore year by playing singles at the county tournament and finishing second to South Hagerstown's Kara Henson.

It all leads back to the one point Shives has stressed for two years: "We've just had some great athletes."

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