Center Lions Club Hears Highlights of Center ISD Tennis Program

April 15, 2021 -  During Lions Club's Thursday, April 15th meeting, Center ISD Tennis Coach Leon Dykes provided a program highlighting the success the varsity tennis team just had at the District Tournament.

Two upcoming events were mentioned during the meeting. First, Monday, April 19th is the Lion's Club Golf Tournament at the Country Club with registration at 11am and May 27th is a BBQ chicken plate fundraiser.

Lion's Club member John Jenkins introduced his guest Coach Leon Dykes who then spoke about the tennis program at Center High School. "We just had our district tournament; we competed in Hudson over two days, Monday and Tuesday. In the spring the way we compete is they're allowed to compete in one division. For example, we have boy singles, girl singles, boys doubles, girls doubles, and mixed doubles. So, its not like they get to compete in more than one event." (Article with the players and district results: Rider Tennis Teams Earn District Championship) Coach Dykes introduced all the players telling what each had placed at the District Tournament. Dykes described the way the district tournament works with only first or second places advancing to the next level. Only 16 kids get to advance from district to the region tournament. He proudly announced nine of the 16 playing at the regional tournament will be Center Roughriders.

From left: Lance Holloway, Ethan McElroy, Collin Jones, Connor McCauley, Ryan Jones, Ian Williams, JackCallen Watlington, and Coach Leon Dykes

Dykes also spoke about fall tennis, "They compete all year around, I know that we're just talking about spring tennis right now but in the fall we do what is called team tennis. And team tennis, it's almost like any other sport where its Center versus Jasper, Center versus Rusk, like football or baseball. It's we line up our best against their best... basically it's a race to win 10 matches as a team. This year, this team right here, they were District champs, Bi-district, Area, Region Quarterfinals, and Region Semifinals. So, this team right here were at Region Semifinals in the fall."

"I couldn't be more proud of this group. They spend a lot of time in court hours all year. In summer they do stuff on their own. We've been fortunate enough now to have 20 years and running as District champs. Very fortunate, very blessed to have this group, and parents that support the program as well as local community members."

From left: Coach Dykes, Emilee Elliot, Sarah Scull, Sayre Hall, Reese Cockrell, Brooke Gaddy, Lanie Hooks, Arista Lee

A Lions Club member asked Dykes to talk about when he gets to start working with the kids, "I was very fortunate that when I was hired they said that we would like to build a program. And at that time, we only had the four courts over at Portacool Park, and middle school and high school was there. My first tennis class was one tennis period with 7th through 12th grade all at the same time. That was interesting but over the years the program has just developed and grown and as the interest has grown, I've been fortunate where the administration has said we see that we need to add some classes for you. Now, I've got five tennis classes. That's where I think that I have the advantage in our district. But again in order to compete at the highest level, which we have been, you've got to have that. So, we've been very fortunate."