Lake Norman & Mooresville

She's new to racquets, but not to coaching

Lindi McCurry never played tennis competitively and has never coached the sport before this season, but the native South African admits that she's always had a soft spot for the game.

"I grew up with my mom watching Wimbledon every year religiously," said the new Hopewell girls' tennis coach. "Tennis is a very popular game in South Africa; it's a very social sport."

McCurry, who moved to the United States in 2002, has plenty of previous coaching experience outside the sport, having coached cross country and swimming for the past several seasons.

She said that what she's learner in her previous coaching stints has translated well to tennis.

"Coaching is really the same for most sports," said McCurry. "You have to focus on your players, you have to focus on bringing them together and motivating them to be the best that they can be and grow every day in how they play their sport."

McCurry said it has been a simple transition, although she's still working on picking up some of the intricacies of tennis and getting to know her players.

"There are small nuances to get used to," she said. "I can now name every line on the tennis court and all the areas on the court."

McCurry explained the same qualities that attracted her to swimming and cross country - team sports that place importance on individualism - drew her to tennis.

"I really think this is a sport that I can get my teeth into and continue coaching," said McCurry.

McCurry said she's been impressed by her Titans, who have six seniors on its nine-women roster, both on and off and court.

"No one misses a practice; they're on time and they're dedicated," she said.

"I have a couple of players who have potential they don't even realize they have. You don't have to know tennis to see that."

Senior Christen Outland, the team's No. 1 player, admits that when McCurry was first hired her teammates were hesitant about their new coach, but now the team has embraced her.

"It's turned out to be really positive," said Outland. "She's really working hard to get to know us and to make sure we succeed."

McCurry didn't come on board until late. She didn't start her coaching duties until she was hired three weeks ago - a week after practice had kicked off - by Hopewell athletic director Jamie Billings, who had supervised the team's practices until he hired their coach.

McCurry, who will teach biology at Hopewell after working at Harding last school year, hopes her team give it their best this season. She said if they do that they might stay competitive in the I-Meck.

"There's change in the district every year," she said. "It's too early to tell which teams are the one to beat especially with a new high school opening."

Outland agrees.

"We need to play consistently and stay positive," she said. "We'll just have to see how it goes from there."