WILLIAMSBURG—Coach Bob Dill has a great attitude about resurrecting girls tennis at Walsingham Academy this fall.
"Not having any seniors at all is amazing, because I'm not losing anyone after this year," Dill said.
Not only that, he could have some of these players for the next seven years. Scads of sixth and seventh graders pepper the team that also includes freshmen and a bunch of high school juniors.
Walsingham has not had girls tennis the past two years because of low participation numbers, which is often a problem at small private schools.
Dill came to the school just recently, and was an assistant coach with the boys tennis team this past spring. He is a West Point native who played tennis at Ferrum College.
Dill said he started a tennis club at Walsingham last fall for grades 3 through 8 to see how many girls might be interested in playing on a team.
"It was a huge success," Dill said. "We had lot of girls wanting to join after doing the club."
Walsingham athletic director Neil Bailey welcomed the new addition.
"I am really excited that we will be adding girls tennis this season," Bailey wrote in an email. "As our athletic program grows, we will continue to expand our offerings so that each of our students has an opportunity to play and excel in their chosen sport. We have a fine group of young tennis players that will be very competitive in the near future."
The team has 14 girls, half of whom are in sixth and seventh grade.
The top players for the varsity squad are juniors Meirin Shae and Ali Ague, freshman Emily Daigneault and eighth grader Tatiana Hanks. Those likely to lead the junior varsity team are sixth grader Elizabeth Barry and seventh graders Cloe Tringali and Olivia Clark.
"It's hard to build program," Dill said. "So you really have to focus on building the younger girls while working with the girls who are currently playing. I feel very confident that we're going to be very competitive this year and we're just going to have a great building year."
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-247-4644.
See a video from Walsingham Academy girls tennis practice at vagazette.com.