About the only problem Frankfort High’s girls tennis team has is numbers.
The Lady Panthers improved to 9-4 Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over Shelby County at Juniper Hill. Shelby’s only win came when FHS forfeited the No. 1 doubles match.
FHS has no seniors on its team, and all the players who competed in Tuesday’s match are returning players from last season.
“We’ve seen a great deal of improvement from everyone,” FHS assistant coach Tim Miller said, “and we’re very thankful to have what we have.”
Junior Jenna Miller returns as the Lady Panthers’ No. 1 singles player. On Tuesday she defeated Yen Ling Chen 6-1, 6-1.
Her sister Lydia, a seventh-grader, is the No. 2 singles player. She won 6-0, 6-0 over Hailey Coffey Tuesday.
At No. 3 singles is junior Mackenzie Sanders.
“We originally had thought Georgia (Ueltschi) would be our No. 3 singles player,” Miller said. “Georgia suffered a knee injury during soccer season so we put her at doubles with Emily (Ballantyne) and that’s worked our pretty well.
“Mackenzie stepped up her play and showed she wanted to play singles more than doubles.”
Sanders defeated Emalee Turley 6-2, 6-1 Tuesday, and Ueltschi and Ballantyne won the No. 2 doubles match 7-5, 6-0 over Rachel Dove and Yohari Salama.
“I’m a big tennis advocate, and I like to see kids get out and be challenged physically and mentally,” Miller said. “Tennis provides that.
“They talk about critical thinking and putting kids in situations where they have to make decisions. Tennis is one way kids can be challenged in those ways.”
Miller, the father of Jenna and Lydia, has been around tennis for several years. He’s worked with George Kriek, whose brother Johan won the Australian Open in 1981 and 1982.
Miller worked at Cross Creek Country Club in North Carolina for 2½ years before moving to Frankfort, and he worked with George Kriek while there.
“I’ve been fortunate to be good friends and mentor under him,” said Miller, who moved to Frankfort two years ago and works for IDT Tool, Inc.
“The kids all have very good attitudes,” he said. “We’re a pretty laid-back team. I’ve always taught tennis to have fun, enjoy it. I’m not someone who has people running laps.
“Coaches do that for cardiovascular work, but I’m more of a European style tennis coach, and I teach what I like to call the clock system.”
Just what is the clock system?
“When you see the ball go towards you, see it as a clock face,” Miller said. “Hit at 4:30 and it goes across the court. Hit at 7:30 and it goes across the court in the opposite direction. Hit between bulls-eye and six o’clock and it goes straight.”
Frankfort’s next match is Thursday at Bullitt East.