GREENVILLE — Wins or losses do not always indicate improvement.
The Greenville Yellow Jackets girls tennis team may be struggling to string together wins, but they have shown constant improvement this year.
For first-year coach Ashley Moccia, improving each and everyday is what she was hoping to see. A former tennis player at Western Michigan, Moccia has seen the improvement through the season.
“This is a program that hasn’t been very successful in the past,” Moccia said. “I felt this was going to be a work in progress. The goal for the girls and what I strived for was to get better.
“To get better everyday at practice and the things we are working on. Starting with the basics,” she added.
Part of the improvement has come by way of confidence. Confidence, as well as basics, is key to be successful.
Moccia, who coaches both the junior varsity and varsity (36 girls to start the year), has seen the confidence, at least in her varsity team.
“It’s been difficult, but I feel with the varsity, we have been a lot more successful this year than last year,” Moccia said. “I wanted the girls to have a sense of confidence. Coming out here and actually believing they can win. I think we have done a lot of that.”
The improvement has been noticed by others, as well. Especially, opposing coaches.
“Coaches have made comments about us improving,” Moccia said. “I’m not concerned about the winning or losing part, but getting better and doing the right things out here.”
Obviously, another key to being successful on the tennis court is keeping the ball in play. There is no chance to win if the ball in constantly being hit off the court.
“With high school tennis you can be athletic and pick up a tennis racket for the first time and be successful out here,” Moccia said. “With high school tennis it’s all about keeping balls on the court. Being consistent on the court.
“We didn’t have that at the beginning of the season. Now we can. Now they are understanding what it takes to be consistent out here,” she said.
Moccia noted the improvement of No. 3 singles player Alex Wagner.
“She has won 11 matches this year. She won two last year,” she said. “She is the definition of consistency. That girl will play to the death of her. She keeps balls on the court and that is why she is in these long matches and why she is winning.”
Improvements are showing in the scores. After losing a lot of two set matches a year ago with few points, the Yellow Jackets are reaching third sets with chances to win.
“I want my girls to come out here and compete. To believe they can win,” Moccia said. “I want them to have a drive for winning. We have built a bit of competitiveness.”
Switching conferences from the O-K White to the O-K Bronze next year won’t be any easier. The Yellow Jackets will lose conference matches with East Grand Rapids and Northview, but pick up schools like Forest Hills Northern and Eastern, both quality tennis programs.
Moccia said as long as her team continues to improve it shouldn’t matter who they play.
“My goal is to keep getting better and build tennis in Greenville,” Moccia said. “I want to get kids at a young age liking tennis. Then that can feed into the high school program.”