Booneville, Miss. – A Northeast Mississippi Community College tennis team full of both experience and youth will take to the courts for the first time next week for an early glimpse of what could be a promising season.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers are scheduled to face rival Northwest Mississippi Community College in an exhibition fall scrimmage on Tuesday, October 8. Both boys and girls action begins at 11 a.m.
"We're looking forward to the opportunity to showcase our talent," said Northeast head coach Ben Shappley. "We've added nine new players to the roster this year to join our seven returning veterans.
"There is good reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season and we are eagerly awaiting our start."
The match will be played at New Albany's BNA Bank Park, which was recently recognized in a New York City ceremony by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) as one of the country's most outstanding facilities.
Due to renovations to the tennis courts on the Booneville campus, the Northeast squads actually played their home contests at BNA Bank Park last season and as a result are familiar with its playing surface.
"We considered it a privilege to get to play there all last year," Shappley said. "They are second to none in the state. All the teams we faced there commented on how nice the courts were and seemed very impressed with the facilities."
The Lady Tigers lost only one sophomore from last year's team that won three matches in Shappley's first campaign at the helm.
Twin sisters Allison and Emily Wiltshire of Belmont hope to make a splash during their second years at Northeast beginning on Tuesday against the Lady Rangers.
Northeast's men lost four sophomores from its 2013 squad, but picked up a key addition in the offseason when it landed the top Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A player in the state in its signing class.
Joseph Shidler of Lewisburg High School was named the No. 1 seed in the MHSAA State Tennis Championships last May but lost in the title match to St. Stanislaus College athlete Walker Laseter in three sets.
Shappley also deepened his roster locally with former Booneville High School star Noah Wright. Wright was a two-time MHSAA Division 1-3A singles champion and qualified for the Class 3A individual semifinals as a senior.
Returning for the first time versus Northwest since an arm injury ended his freshman year early is Micah Page. Shappley is eager to see how the Tishomingo native does in his first competition back on the court.