NEW ALBANY - The New Albany Tennis trio of seniors Lexie Kent and Luke Bolen plus Coach Suzy Bowman will get together on the courts for one final match at the MAC 2020 All-Star Tennis Tournament in Jackson on July 16.
The 2020 tennis season began with a lot of optimism for the trio as the Bulldogs hoped to win a third consecutive 4A team title, but the coronavirus ended the season in early March. New Albany played one division match, winning 7-0 over Tishomingo County and a handful of non-division contests.
Despite all the disappointment from the abbreviated season, the trio are excited to be reunited for one final day on the courts at Parham Bridges.
"I’m very grateful to be chosen and excited to put my NA uniform on one more time!" Kent said of the all-star selection.
"I feel very honored. can’t wait to get out on the court," Bolen said.
Bowman has been involved with the all-star matches previously, but never in a situation as unique as this year's.
"This is my second time being chosen to coach the MAC All-Star game since being the head coach of NA Tennis," Bowman said. "With the current events of 2020, this is a great honor to be one of the North coaches of a talented graduating senior class, many of which I have watched grow up on the courts over the years."
Both Kent and Bolen stated that it was a very special event to be teammates representing New Albany once again and to have their longtime coach there with them for the experience before they both move on to furthering their playing careers at ICC.
It’s so much more special to have the opportunity to be coached by her before moving on to ICC," Kent said. "This means this absolute world to me. It It took a long time to realize and accept that I wouldn’t be playing for NA anymore and it’s really special to put on my uniform one more time and be a Dog."
Bolen added "I'm very glad I get to share this with my teammate and my coach. This really means a lot to be able to play once again for New Albany."
Bowman also shared how special this would be to share one last tennis experience with her seniors.
"I can’t tell you how special it is to get to share this All-Star match with Lexie and Luke," Bowman said. "We were heartbroken to end our season the way we did, so to have the chance to coach them one last time in this match will be a nice way to end our journey together before they head off to play for ICC in the fall."
The coronavirus pandemic offered some hard life lessons for everyone and those involved with New Albany tennis were no less affected.
"The pandemic taught me to never take things for granted," Bolen said. "I would’ve never guessed that it would end our school year so early."
Kent also shared her thoughts on what she learned from the pandemic by saying "Don’t take anything for granted. Cherish every moment you get to play your sport.
"It was difficult to accept how much everything changed and how much we lost, but I’m so thankful for this opportunity. It just makes this even more special that it already was."
Bowman shared how her experiences taught her the importance of family and good health.
"After the shock and sadness of everything with our season wore off, I was able to reflect on many things as a coach," she said. We have created a culture of winning and I’m proud of that, but winning is not everything!
"The most important thing is that our players and their families were healthy and safe during the pandemic. It was also a time for us to spend quality time with our families. Those spring months when we are in season, is a steady hustle and bustle of long nights and lots of stress to make it to the championship, though I miss that rush of excitement, I enjoyed the time with my family and I know our players did as well. I wish things turned out differently, but overall I am just thankful my players and their families are safe."
Bowman is also looking forward to sharing coaching duties with Louis Nash of Oxford with the North team.
"Also, I am very excited about coaching alongside my dear friend and someone I consider a mentor in high school tennis, Coach Louis Nash of Oxford," Bowman said. "I have the upmost respect for him as a coach so I think we are going to make a great coaching pair for the North!"
The MAC All-Star Tennis matches are scheduled for July 16 at Parham Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson with a 1:00 p.m. start.