ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior’s success on the tennis courts this spring may rely on the racket of one player — Alex Auman.
Richmond coach Paula York believes having Auman return to lead the Raiders will help her inexperienced team in the season’s upcoming matches. Only four of York’s 13 players return from last year’s squad.
“I think I will have three brand new players in the top six,” York said. “I’m not sure how they will handle being out there. With this many players on the team, it makes practices more competitive.”
With her star player back for his senior season, York hopes Auman will be able to give the Raiders two points in each contest — one in singles and the other in doubles. A school must receive five of the nine points in order to win a high school match.
“I think if Alex can do that for us, then that will take the pressure off the other players,” York said. “I think it would help them play a little freer and looser.”
Auman, who advanced to last year’s 4A singles tennis championship, understands he will be called upon to provide leadership while his teammates get used to competing on the varsity level.
“Since I’m at No. 1, it pushes everyone else down a spot, which will help us,” Auman said. “With my experience I can help with their motions and help them make better strokes.”
Auman added he has set his own personal goals this season of winning the conference Southeastern Conference title, a regional crown and to fare better in the state championship.
York believes with Auman anchoring the top of her lineup, the Raiders will be in the mix to finish second behind Pinecrest in the SEC.
“Pinecrest is probably the lead dog as usual,” York said. “After that I think it will be pretty competitive, but it depends on who comes back this year. I think it will be a much closer conference race for second with Scotland, Lumberton, Hoke and us. And Purnell Swett played better the second time around last year.
“Hopefully, we will be in the mix for second.”
Richmond opens its season at 4 p.m. Wednesday at South View, before playing host to the Tigers at 4 p.m March 5.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com