Last updated: August 11. 2014 1:01AM - 292 Views
By Jim Fuller jfuller@civitasmedia.com

McKenzie Stokes will play her final season for the Cardinals this fall.
McKenzie Stokes will play her final season for the Cardinals this fall.
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RONDA —Coming off a season with an 11-1 conference mark and a 14-4 record overall, East Wilkes will face a bit of a challenge if it hopes to repeat, or even contend, for the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference championship this season.

“Yes, we’re two-time conference champions,” East Wilkes women’s tennis coach Aaron Simmons said last week, “but we’re going to have to grow up fast if we want to be in contention again.

“Elkin and Ashe [County] are good. Elkin returns all but one and Ashe returns just about everybody.”

“The interesting thing about our team is they’re very similar in talent through 12 and 14,” Simmons said. “We have quite a few juniors and seniors on the roster, but we are very inexperienced in varsity play.

“We’re a solid team. They have fundamentals. But we lack varsity experience.”

The experience will come quickly. They’ll see Ashe County, Elkin, and Surry Central in their first three matches.

“We play a very difficult schedule,” Simmons said. “Especially outside out conference. They are going to be tested early. They are going to be tested often. Our first five matches are brutal.”

Even with a inexperienced team, Simmons like the way his teams works every day. “This group is a lot of fun,” he said. “I think this group will improve exponentially.

“By the end of the year, we should be pretty tough.”

In addition to Ashe County and Elkin, Simmons said Wilkes Central should be good as well.

“The last two years I thought we had the better team,” Simmons said. “This year, it’s truly up for grabs.”

Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-258-4052 or Twitter @elkinareasports.

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