Jackson Middle School Tennis Coach Patrick Ledray felt from the beginning that the Jaguar girls 2013 tennis team might be a special group of young student athletes.
“On the first day all of the girls were on time, they all were wearing tennis shoes, and they each had their own tennis rackets,” Ledray reported. “And, they all came ready to play.”
Even more remarkable was the fact that neither Jackson’s Blue or Gray Teams lost any of their eleven matches.
The Jaguars won their matches against opposing middle schools, and out of 110 match ups (single vs. single player or double team vs. double team) the Jackson girls won 97 and lost only 13.
Coach Ronald Kopp, who focused on the Gray team, was pleased with the Gray squad and was particularly proud of the fact that after one match the coach from the opposing team complimented him on the high level of sportsmanship displayed by the Jaguars.
“We are particularly proud of that,” Ledray said. “At our season end pizza party we awarded four sportsmanship medals to girls selected by their teammates. We also awarded a most-improved player medal, and thirteen medals to girls who went undefeated all season.”
This year the Jackson team was composed of eight girls in the sixth grade, 19 in seventh grade, and four in eighth grade.
“We have few eighth grade players because we encourage them to play tennis at Champlin Park High School as soon as they have developed good basic skills,” said Ledray.
Five did so this year, and Ledray pointed out that of his 19 seventh graders, all are capable of playing on Champlin Park’s team next year.
A recent rule change by district will make it possible for outstanding players from Jackson to play on the varsity high school team.
Ledray said that the Jackson team occasionally practices on the Champlin Park High School courts which allows them to watch a higher level of play, and increases their desire to play tennis in high school.
“During our end of season pizza party the High School coaches, and players, attend and pitch their program to our middle school players. That is a big boost for the tennis programs at both Jackson and Champlin Park,” Ledray said.
Asked about the coaching program, Ledray said, “We coaches, Jim Urich, Ronald Kopp, and I have played on USTA Tennis Teams together for years. We see each other at practice nearly every Monday night, and play in matches together. We personally enjoy the game and it is truly the ‘sport of a lifetime.’ Our enthusiasm, hopefully, is passed on to the girls. We had thirteen girls go undefeated this year but every player played her best in every match, and that’s most important.”
Sportsmanship medals were awarded to Clara Brekke, Abby Huynh, Greta Kueng and Angelina Pongmany.
Ledray noted that it is difficult for a player, in any sport, to go undefeated for a season. Jackson’s undefeated players this year were Clara Brekke, Anne Bui, Bailey Hanson, Abby Huynh, Grace Kosel, Greta Kueng, Sarah Larson, Justina Palmer, Angelina Pongmany, Nana Laurine, Grace Potter, Annabelle Vo, and Quiana Walton.