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Blair Dickens, left, and Hannah Wells prepare for a return against Southampton.

After a missed 2020 season, spring sports have returned to Greensville County High School. And while many students are back on the field with their friends playing the sports they love, two GCHS freshman are trying something completely new. Ninth graders Blair Dickens and Hannah Wells are the only two members of the girls’ tennis team this year.

Coach Andre Ellis, who is also the band director at GCHS, said the pair approached him before the season and asked if they could play, even though Dickens and Wells had never played tennis before. After just a few practices, Ellis is excited by what he sees from the young players.

“They’re learning,” Ellis said, “but they’re going to be really, really good.”

Their first match was Thursday at home against Southampton. Wells fell 8-0 to Southampton’s Blaire Claud, while Dickens fell 8-4 to Mia Williams. Williams and Claud bested Dickens and Wells in doubles as well by a score of 8-1. Because of the limited roster and experience, Ellis forfeited the No. 1 and No. 2 single’s matches and the No. 1 double’s match to allow his young players to play against more level competition.

But this season isn’t about results, Ellis said. It’s about growth – learning how the game is scored and getting a little bit better each day.

“We can’t win a team match,” Ellis said, “but individually in tennis you can go far. So I wanted to teach. This has been the best three weeks ever, because they want to learn – they’re eager.”

Dickens and Wells said they have been friends since 7th grade at E.W. Wyatt Middle School, when they were on the volleyball and dance teams together. Kelly said the decision to play tennis was one the friends made together, and have enjoyed thus far.

“I wanted to try a new sport,” Wells said, “and we’ve been inside during quarantine. So we said ‘let’s try something different.’”

Dickens said Ellis has been a wonderful coach, and that in such a short time he has been able to teach the pair a lot about the sport that is completely new to them.

Dickens added that during the first practice, she was just concerned about keeping the tennis balls inside the fences, let alone the in-lines. But after just a few practices, she is already getting the hang of the game and looking forward to playing more and more of the sport.