For the Timber Creek Tennis team, the past seasons have served as an overall year of firsts, starting foremost as the first year in school history to make Playoffs in the fall, and ending with a satisfactory performance at both their regional and district tournaments this spring. Juniors Kiryll Pokudin and Cayden Akins placed second in boys’ doubles and freshman Skylar Rust placed second in girls’ doubles at the district tournament, advancing them to regionals.

“In order to prepare, we stayed after school every day till 5,” said Pokudin. “I was trying to reach 100 varsity wins and the team tried to make it to regionals. Our [district] tournament was really hard but I think the team did really good, the guys got third overall but…my doubles partner Cayden Akins [and I] got second.”

Advancing on to region, held on April 18 and 19 at the Arlington Tennis Center, the pair unfortunately lost in the first round. While the players may have fallen short of a regional win, they did however meet their own expectations, not only supporting one another on the court, but off as well.

This year, I learned how much mental strength plays into tennis,” said Akins. “I want to make it to regionals next year and win at least one match there..I came into the season wanting to qualify for regionals and was able to reach this goal.”

Paired with district 4-6A and having already played against Lamar, Martin and Paschal High Schools, the team has learned how to adapt to the competition. Having varsity practice fifth period on schools days during the heat of the day while other schools typically play during first period, the athletes have learned to adjust to almost anything. Working on hitting drills, footwork drills, game and conditioning, the team has used several unique techniques to prepare them for different situations that the players may encounter during matches, continuing this trend throughout the next playing season.

While the two tennis players started out with alternate goals for their sport, with Akins playing because of his older sibling and Pokudin starting out wanting a P.E school credit, the pair soon grew to strive for excellence.

I got into tennis through my older brother, who began playing in seventh grade until his senior year of high school,” Akins said. “This year… I learned that having fun was the most important thing and if I’m not enjoying playing, win or lose, then I shouldn’t be playing. I was able to make new friends at tournaments with other schools. Although we have many seniors graduating, I believe our team will still be able to fare against other teams because of our stacked ladder.”