The Southfield Jay Southfield High School Southfield, MI
Issue Date: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 Issue: May 2011 Last Update: Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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Backhanded compliment: Lauren Hughes returns a serve during practice. The willowy sophomore plays in the first singles spot for the team. - Andrew Melton

The Lady Jays tennis team has held serve this season, battling to a 5-2 record, thanks in part to standout sophomore Lauren Hughes.

Hughes, who plays at the number one singles spot, has won every match this year, backhanding the competition en route to a 7-0 personal record.

Head Coach Ernie Taber says that Hughes will be a grand slam to opponents this year. "She is the most talented player in 16 years of coaching girls tennis that I have seen," says Taber. "She made it to the regional final last year and has a good chance to win states this year." With Hughes and the rest of the team, "I believe we could win Leagues this year," says head coach Ernie Taber.

The Lady Jays tennis team plays in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division and has faced the likes of Ferndale, Southfield-Lathrup, Avondale, Royal Oak, Hazel Park and Pontiac, having lost only to Avondale and Royal Oak.

According to Taber, the team’s strong leadership in senior co-captains Jatorie Anderson and Eboni Person has a lot to do with their accomplishments this season.

In recent years the tennis team has faltered in competition, but this season their fortunes have turned.  Hughes, has a great deal to do with their success. Although relatively new to the high school sports scene, Hughes immediately made her presence known, earning a trip to the regional final last year, as a freshman.

Hughes says she has not broken a sweat yet but recognizes how much the competition stiffens at the regional level. "Last year I made it to regionals, but I really wasn’t in any kind of shape. This year I am, so I should be able to make it pretty far," says Hughes.

One of the few players who has gone forehand for forehand with her is senior Khadijah Kenyatta, a Warren Mott player. Kenyatta was able to defeat Hughes in a recent tournament. "I could have done better. We are friends, so it was kind of difficult to play against her. Next time I just have to be focused. "

Hughes’ ascension to the top of the OAA bracket has not come easily. She has long been challenged with her travel team, the Dearborn Penguins. She has 6 years of experience, and has competed in too many matches to count. "I couldn’t tell you my record, but I have probably lost as many matches as I’ve won," says Hughes.

Hughes’s mother, Ingrid Hughes, recalls one of her daughter’s most thrilling matches from a couple of years ago in Indiana: "It was a match that went back and forth for three long sets, and finally she won."

The level of competition Hughes has faced throughout her tennis career thus far has made her quite formidable. So much so, in fact, that she is ranked 15th in Southeast Michigan in the 16 and younger group and ranked 44th in the 18 and under group.

As a Lady Jay, Hughes supports the team. Freshman Veronica Owens, who has competed alongside Hughes since they were 9, says Hughes convinced her to join the team. Owens says, "I wasn’t going to play high school tennis this year, but she motivated me to play.’

Owens has also boosted the team’s success with her personal 5-1 record. With this dominant duo, the girls’ tennis team will have a fighting chance for years to come.

"With Hughes, our chances of winning are increased, and even when we lose, we will never lose 0-8," says Co-Captain Anderson.

Like Hughes herself, from her freshman to sophomore year, the tennis team as a whole has gained ground in sets, serves and volleys and they have nowhere to go but up.

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1 COMMENTS - add your comment below
5/23/2011 11:21:54 PM by Lala    
Nice job.... thumbs up!
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