By Monty Campbell

The Cove Herald

Confidence overflowed from the mass numbers of Copperas Cove tennis players and their coaches Wednesday morning as the 2007 Copperas Cove Tennis Mini-camp opened under sunny skies and moderate temperatures at Bulldawg Tennis Complex.

Just a year removed form their most successful season in the history of the program — a trip to the Region II-4A Team Tennis Championships — head coach Paul Talbett can hardly wait to begin the new campaign with several returning players and incoming freshmen at the camp this week.

“Basically, we know that quite a few of our players have been working hard over the summer and some haven’t been on the courts at all,” head coach Paul Talbett said.

“We are using this camp mainly as a diagnostic tool to see where people are at before we start practice next week.”

Talbett and his fellow coaches will be keeping a watchful eye on the 40-50 players hoping to make a strong enough impression on the coaches for this upcoming season. A season that will entail a schedule of about 30 different dates, with the goal of returning to the playoffs and eventually earning a state championship.

“The first year that I got here we kept preaching about getting better each time we stepped on the court and will continue doing that with more experience,” Talbett said. “Last year, we had only four experienced players (3 boys and 1 girl) returning but now we are more experienced.”

Leading the experienced Bulldawgs back on the court is senior Zack Bengston, a regional qualifier in boys doubles action during the spring season.

Despite losing in the first round to Highland Park, Bengston’s experience from reaching the regional tournament will help propel him into the leader’s role that will be expected.

Along with Bengston, fellow senior Matt Cranfill will be looked on to lead the team as well as returning players Tevin Ogo and Jordan Kingery.

On the girls side of the ledger, Talbett points to Heather Pergande — who has achieved her Champ-16 rating — as the catalyst.

Just as was the case on the boys side, the girls also return both doubles’ teams of Tina Thai and Dana Whitt and Jillian Jones and Candace Walker, who will be looked on to lead the team back to the post-season.

“The girls side will have to come up extremely big this year, but we have 14-15 girls battling to be on the squad, so we will be solid,” Talbett said, while alluding to the fact that the Girls JV team won the district title last year.

“We will be counting on Zack (Bengston) and Matt’s (Cranfill) senior leadership and then a lot of youth after that, on the boys side.”

Copperas Cove begins formal team practice during their annual Midnight Madness first practice Aug. 2 and then opens the team tennis season one week later as they host the Ellison Eagles, in the first match of the season. The first matches are slated to begin at 9 a.m.

“Last year, we got a taste of regionals and we would like to return there and more this season. It would also be nice to unseat Midway as the best team in the district,” Talbett said, referring to Midway never finishing lower than first in the history of the program.

“Our goal is to play Highland Park in the regional finals or semi’s and not the first round of regionals, but ultimately our goal in the back of our heads is to get to state.”

Contact Monty Campbell at or call (254) 547-9173.

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