Bandys doubles tennis team has fun on and off court
Tuesday, May. 20, 2014

Bandys doubles tennis team has fun on and off court

    Bandys High boys tennis players Andrew Beard, left, and J. Will Edwards were paired together as a doubles team late in the season. They advanced to the NCHSAA 2A state tournament.
    Bandys High boys tennis players Andrew Beard, left, and J. Will Edwards clown around during a photo session on the school's tennis courts. Paired together as a doubles team late in the season, Brown and Patterson advanced to the NCHSAA 2A state tournament.

It took most of the season for longtime friends Andrew Beard and J. Will Edwards to convince the Bandys High boys’ tennis coaches to pair them together in doubles.

Once they teamed up, Beard and Edwards exceeded expectations and had a little fun doing so.

Beard and Edwards made it to the semifinals of the Southern District 7 2A conference tournament and finished third at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A West Regional tournament to qualify for the state championships.

While their run at the 2A state tournament was short-lived, Beard and Edwards were the only Bandys players to make it that far.

“Honestly, every game was pretty laid back,” said Beard, a senior. “We had more fun than be serious. I don’t know if that’s why we went as far as we did, but we treated every game like it was practice.

“I don’t think we took things as serious as we should have at some points, but it seemed to work for us. We seemed to play better when we were having fun.”

Beard and Edwards, classmates since middle school, began the season as Bandys’ No. 4 and No. 5 singles players, respectively, as well as playing doubles with other partners.

But when Trojans coach Karen Darden and assistant Debby Reynolds began looking at how the team was set up, they realized that some changes needed to be made in their doubles pairings to free up their best players for singles.

“Since you can only send two singles (players) and two doubles (teams) to the regional, you have to decide whether you want to play singles or doubles,” Darden said. “That messed up our lineup … so we just rearranged some things.

“Normally, we didn’t want to have these guys together because being such good friends, they had a tendency to goof off a little bit. But when we rearranged, they wound up playing very well together.”

Said Edwards, also a senior: “We had been asking (Darden) all year long to let us play doubles. She finally decided to let us.”

Beard and Edwards played together in doubles for Bandys’ final four regular-season matches and the Southern District 7 2A conference tournament to qualify for the regionals.

“When we got to regionals, we didn’t expect to even win the first (match), honestly,” Beard said. “But when we won the first (match), we said ‘maybe we can do this.’ Then in our second (match), we bombed the first set – we got destroyed. But we came back and won the second set … then the third set.

“The regionals was a big wake-up call for us, because we had never gone farther than this. But when we played that well, we were surprised and realized that we should think of ourselves going a little further.”

Beard and Edwards wound up going 3-1 in the regional tournament, advancing to the semifinals – which qualified them for the state tournament – before losing. They bounced back by winning the third-place match.

“That second set in the second match in the regionals was when we started playing really good,” Edwards said. “When we won that second set, I thought then that we would make it.

“We always played better when we were having fun. We weren’t so serious, and weren’t so stressed out about messing up.”

While Beard and Edwards’ stay at the state tournament ended with a first-round loss to Greene Central’s Robby Taylor and Dylan Costello, 6-1, 6-2, that was a lot better than Edwards counted on when he was paired with his friend a month earlier.

“I was kinda shocked. … But I was excited too,” Edwards said. “I told my dad (Gary Edwards) that I would’ve bet all the money I had that I would never make it to states playing tennis.”

Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at

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