BOAZ, Ala. – The 2023 Women’s Tennis squad of Snead State Community College is young and loaded with local talent.
Head coach Matt Holaday, entering his 10th year leading the program, has only one returning sophomore, Hannah Childress, from Albertville, for the spring season. However, five freshmen will look to make an immediate impact, including Kiran Nortan and Mallory Pritchett, of Douglas; Erica Lang and Sarah Beth Luther, of Guntersville; and Caroline Thomas, of Albertville.
Holaday said this year’s team had already shown potential to be special.
“All of our players bring their own unique, God-given gifts and talents to the program,” he said. “They have all bonded more quickly than any bunch I have worked with since I started coaching tennis in 1979.”
The Lady Parsons tennis program will aim to bounce back this season following a rough stretch over the last few years since winning nine-straight conference titles from 2008-2016, of which Holaday was head coach for the final three.
The first six titles came when Steve Machen was head coach. He led the program for 18 years before “I was handed the keys to the most solid tennis program in the conference,” Holaday said. Machen and former Athletic Director David Wilson were instrumental in building the tennis program’s foundation, Holaday said.
“I take full responsibility for the decline in our wins and increase in losses over the last couple of years,” Holaday said. “With the additions of Wallace State and Central Alabama, and now Bevill State, we have had less of a recruiting base to benefit from. They would rather stay local and play, which is great news for our local student-athletes.
“I made the decision two years ago to not recruit outside our immediate locale for the sole purpose of helping build the junior development program, which is in full force at Sand Mountain Park in Albertville, as well as several other coaches making an awesome effort to help their players have the chance to play at this level.”
Holaday has a clear vision of what he expects of his team this season, but it’s much more than adding to the trophy case.
“We always have the goal to bring glory to God in our efforts,” Holaday said. “We, of course, want to have the best team record, win the conference tournament and then qualify for nationals.
“We also want to have the highest GPA possible,” he added. “Our ladies have consistently been at the top academically in the NJCAA. We’ve won back-to-back team academic awards, and we always have several make First-Team Academic All-American.”
The Lady Parsons officially opened their season Saturday, Jan. 28, with a 9-0 loss against Coastal Alabama-South. The team will look to pick up its first win of the year against Tennessee Southern University on Friday, Feb. 3, at the Jimmy John’s Tennis Complex in Decatur, starting at 2 p.m. Learn more about the tennis team and view a full schedule at www.sneadathletics.com.