by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST — Heritage High School’s girls tennis teams have been competitive in their short three-year history. But, the overall results haven’t always been encouraging.
Under new head coach John Fisher, however, and with a team returning all of its players from last season, the Huskies have reason to be excited about 2013.
“Everybody returns from last year,” said Fisher, who takes over the coaching duties from Greg Kasse. Kasse resigned to spend more time with his family.
“The team has experience. They know each other and they know how to work together and they have a strong bond,” Fisher said.
Heritage enters its fourth year on the courts but with the experience, they still have to battle the more experienced players in the Cap 8 Conference, some of which are the best in the state.
“Problem is, we haven’t been that successful yet, in terms of conference standings.” Fisher said. “Especially with so many seniors, this is a good year to figure out how to win under pressure.”
Fisher played tennis in high school and won a state title with his high school tennis team in Hendersonville.
His first coaching job was at Battery Creek High School in Beaufort, SC, where he directed both the girls and boys programs.
He resurrected the boys program there during his first year and in his fourth year he was named Region 8, 4A coach of the year.
Next, Fisher led the girls team at Sun Prairie High School, in Sun Prairie, WI, for two years.
Last season, he assisted Kasse with the Heritage teams.
“I’m happy to take over this year,” he said.
Fisher also teaches AP U.S. government and politics and psychology at Heritage.
His goal this year is simple: Get better, Fisher said.
“I can’t say much more than that,” he added. “We want to rise in the Cap 8 rankings, but as long as we’re improving, there’s excellent potential there.”
“We’ve been working on all of the fundamentals and basics of tennis,” Fisher added. “We want a well-rounded game and hopefully that will pay off soon.”
Senior Marissa Redmond, who played No. 1 singles last season, is back and along with senior Carrie Weatherman, the two should be the top players on the 16-girl roster.
“Carrie is right there with her,” Fisher said. “Both players are strong and both have the capacity to play top level tennis.”
There is a wealth of other girls competing for top spots including seniors Jasmine Williams and Charlotte Hopson, juniors Kaitlyn Tun, Megan Matula and Sarah Talley and sophomore Anna Jones.
Freshman Janelle Maffucci will also see playing time, said Fisher.
“She shows an incredible amount of potential,” he said. “She’s our high-energy person and I hope it’s infectious. She’s going to bring some great tennis to this team sooner or later.”
What Fisher likes about his team is that the girls have a good chemistry and they have experience.
“We also need to work on the little things like footwork, balance, strategy — that’s how we go from good to great,” he said. “Even if our record isn’t great, if we’re improving those things every day, we will be competitive.”