Pisgah girls tennis is off to a strong start to the 2019 season. The Bears picked up victories in their first three matches, a 6-3 home win over Owen on Aug. 20, an 8-1 road win at Shelby the next day and another 6-3 win at rival Tuscola on Monday.

With what he’s seen from his team so far, Pisgah head coach Harold Shepard is confident his team will be ready to go for conference play in the second week of September as they continue to progress.

“I would like to say it’s where I expected it,” Shepard said. “We’re still feeling some growing pains in a spot or two. But we’re learning, we’re playing hard and by the time we get to conference in another week or so, I feel like we’ll be in good shape.”

One of the things Shepard is most pleased with is the way his players are buying into the “team concept” which is a bit unusual for a largely individual sport like tennis, and making sure they put the overall team success ahead of their own.

“They’re doing what they can do to help each other get better and win as a team. That’s the mindset that I like to push because it needs to be more about the team than it is about the individual. The individual accolades are something that comes after. They should be enjoyed after. They should worry about the group first. And worry about the individual last.”

The Bears have three matches left before opening conference play against Smoky Mountain on Sept. 10, and will continue to work on honing all aspects of their game before that.

“We are going to be very persistent about how we work at the net,” Shepard said. “We’ve got to improve on our back court play, only because we focus a lot up front and we just don’t spend as much time on the back court play as we should. And we need to improve on our doubles work. We spend a lot of time getting kids ready to play singles and I’d like to say historically we’ve done very well in doubles and we’ve not played as well in doubles as I’d like us to.”

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This article was written and published before Thursday’s match.

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