COLUMBIA — The Hickman boys tennis team isn’t going to overpower anyone, but the Kewpies aren’t going to try.
Coach Andy Materer has the team work on unusual drills in practice to make up for a lack of firepower.
“My philosophy is preaching accuracy and moving the ball in the corners,” Materer said. “We’re working on style of play and putting together points.”
In order to make the Kewpies better at these skills, Materer has his players try to hit cones placed in the back corners of the court. The four players on each court have to hit cross-court shots and they don’t stop until they hit a cone three times.
At practice on Thursday, Materer stopped the drill after senior Brandon Page, who has been playing in the top singles spot, hit a cone for the second time. Materer said he wanted to have a lighter practice because the Kewpies have had two matches and a tournament in the past three days.
Practice got rained out at about 4:15 p.m. anyway.
“Coach is stressing accuracy,” Page said. “The drills help out every time.”
Materer said the cone drill took two hours early in the season, Thursday, the drill took only about 15 minutes.
The team also uses a drill Materer calls the “Pete Sampras drill”. In the drill, the Kewpies run side-to-side between the singles line and the center line for 30 seconds. According to Materer, Sampras said it was his favorite drill.
“It helps with good, quick steps,” Materer said.
Hickman competed Wednesday in the 25-team SMS Relays in Springfield. In singles, Page made it to the quarterfinals. The doubles team of senior Sang Chung and junior Alex Turner won two matches before falling in the quarterfinals.
All three are making big jumps from where they played last season. Page played primarily No. 3 singles and said the jump to No. 1 has been tough.
“Usually every school has a pretty good player (at No. 1),” Page said.
Chung, who is playing No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles, switched off between No. 5 and No. 6 singles last year and Turner played both No. 6 singles and junior varsity before making the jump to No. 3 singles this year.
Today, the Kewpies will take on Cape Girardeau Central at 10:30 a.m. and Joplin at 2:30 p.m. in the Columbia Duals at Cosmopolitan Park.