Nicole Hill had not played tennis for more than a year.
But when she enrolled at the still fairly new Future School of Fort Smith, Hill was eager to join the tennis squad.
“For mostly scholarships, but also the tennis team here, I thought it would be an awesome, awesome opportunity,” Hill said. “It’s right after my college classes, and when I get back, I was like, this is how I can unwind, this is what I can put my energy into, this is what I can focus on.
“The team is awesome; I get along well with all of them, they’re in all of my classes. We’re just a big family honestly; it’s been amazing here, it really has.”
In their first season, the Rockets were able to compete at the 2A-4 conference tournament held Wednesday at the Fort Smith Athletic Club. But the school wasn’t able to enjoy a possible trip to state as each of the players were defeated in the opening round, with Hill coming up on the short end of a close loss in her match against Classical Academy’s Abby Worthington.
When it was over, though, there was nothing but optimism from Hill and the Rockets.
“My favorite part of playing tennis is just getting out there and just focusing on it and meeting new people out there. … It’s getting out there, it’s focusing and doing my best, because I’m not always going to win and I understand that,” Hill said. “I’m proud of how well I played (Wednesday) and not thinking twice about it.
“Now I know what I need to work on, now I know what the team needs to work on and we’re going to work hard, come back and (do better).”
Hill’s coach, Brandon Cox, shares that sentiment.
“We had a total of five players on the team, four of them were brand-new to tennis. … I think we’ll only improve from this point going forward,” Cox said.
“I think everybody had a good enough time, the team has a great chemistry. I hope everybody comes back; I think they will and we’ll be able to play and practice all year and be ready for…